Monthly Archives: October 2016

Just vote “NO”

Georgia residents will see four ballot initiatives in the upcoming November 8 election. When in doubt you should almost always vote “NO” on any constitution changing ballot initiative. The overwhelming tendency is for government power to expand as personal freedom declines – and ballot initiatives generally reflect this reality. I invite the reader to review the exact wording of the initiatives as well as a more comprehensive overview of the true motivations behind them here. In brief though they follow a formulaic pattern that goes something like this: “Shall bad or disreputable thing, children, children, be fixed by implementing innocuous sounding program?” The new program is invariably a Trojan horse designed to expand the state’s purview of unaccountable authority.

Ballot Question 1 proposes to “fix” “failing” schools by allowing the state to take them over. Sounds good, right? Who could be for failing schools? What is omitted is that the entity proposing to take them over would also sets the standard of what constitutes “failing.” All it takes is a legislative tweak to the standard and suddenly all schools in the state are “failing” and require a takeover. Also omitted is that the state turns control over to private companies in a classic cronyist-fascist-public-private “partnership” model. While there is nothing wrong with private entities running schools, they should do so on their own without help from the government to gain clientele.

Ballot Question 2 is even sneakier. It tries to capitalize on widespread distaste for the sex-industry (prostitution, strip clubs, etc.) to sneak in a new layer of government. It proposes new fines and penalties (there are already fines that are quite high) for illegal activity but then slyly adds a new tax on a legal business type (strip clubs) for the express purpose of establishing yet another program to help supposed “victims” of these consensual activities. Even if you find the sex-industry distasteful, please realize they are using that distaste as a pretext to sneak in constitutional permission to impose a tax on ANY type of business to fund ANY new program (strip clubs are merely the “random” example chosen). That’s picking winners and losers. Legislators don’t like Uber? Ok, new “fee” assessed on it to fund a program to retrain cabbies that lost their job or perhaps subsidize cab companies to “help” them compete with Uber et al. That’s what this is about. It’s not about the sex trade. They just know most people will unthinkingly vote for anything that sounds like it might punish that industry.

Ballot Question 3 just gets even worse. What they don’t tell you speaks mountains. Restating without the omissions, “Shall the independent and not accountable to any branch of government Judicial Qualifications Committee (that is, can’t be influenced by those in government) be abolished and a new one be created that is populated with political appointees who owe allegiance to the very entity they are supposedly overseeing (that is, the government)” Yeah, the foxes are tired of the dog guarding the henhouse – they want a fox to guard the henhouse.

Ballot Question 4 sounds the most reasonable and straightforward; no flowery language here. The deception relies on the fact that most people have no idea how the General Assembly funds programs in Georgia. So they are duped into voting for a less efficient system than the one we already have. And as usual that deception is based on tapping into fear; fear that fireworks are harming untold thousands. So we must DO something! The thing is we already fund the programs they cite. Earmarking funds this way sounds good but in reality is less effective because there is no direct correlation between fireworks sales and public safety services. Creating a special fund means those services could be either over or under funded depending on the vagaries of such sales or the random distribution of injuries

So, to sum up, vote “NO” on all four proposals. Each is nothing more than a deceptive attempt to expand the power and influence of individuals within the state government at the expense of all the citizens.

Athens voters consider third party presidential candidates

I was recently interviewed by James Thompson a senior in the UGA school of journalism. His final project was featured in Online Athens and you can see the result here or below. My part is only about 10 seconds at most, but hey, it’s something.

Actions Trump Words

I’m certainly no Trump fan, but the level of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance of the Clinton campaign is breathtaking. So when Bill Clinton came under fire with decades old charges of sexual assault, well that was just part of a vast right wing conspiracy to smear his good name and obviously had no impact on his ability to govern. However, when Donald Trump is the target of similar charges (although Trump barely made it to first base whereas Clinton made several home runs) from years gone by, well that is an obvious reason to disqualify him from the Presidency. Hillary’s tepid defense of women runs only as deep as their politics. If they are opposed to her or her husband then they are liars. But, if they are aligned with her, then their word is sacrosanct and it is up to the accused to prove his innocence.

Now of course the mainline Republicans aren’t much better. They were all too eager to skewer Bill Clinton over his indiscretions many years ago, but seem content to whistle past the graveyard of sexual escapades now that the Donald has come under similar fire. So it seems the general rule in politics is this: if my candidate does X that’s no big deal, but if the opposition does X then that instantly disqualifies them from holding office.

Again, Trump is no saint, but it does seem odd to get so upset over his mere words in contrast to Clinton’s deeds. As they say, actions speak louder than words. Clinton was actively involved in the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in Libya and Syria. As Secretary of State she directly shaped policies of the Obama administration that led to destabilization of Libya by overthrowing Kaddafi. This Libyan power vacuum led to a widening of the conflict in Syria as the US-armed rebels in Libya moved into Syria and morphed into ISIS. So while some may fear what sort of rash behavior the loudmouth blowhard that is Donald Trump might engage in, I’d say we should be more fearful of the person for whom we have an actual record of action. Clinton either knew that this bloodshed and destabilization would result or she was unable to foresee the obvious consequences of such interventionism – either is sufficient to disqualify her from being given even more responsibility.

Trump is a businessman. Businesses try to achieve their goals with the least expenditure of resources. War is costly in comparison to peace, so that supposition and Trump’s own words suggest he would be more likely to invest in non-violent resolutions. Peace is far more profitable.

So whereas Gary Johnson is the far better candidate than either of these two loons, if you are convinced voting for Gary is “wasting” your vote (however false that premise may be) then at least vote for the candidate less likely to get us embroiled in World War III with Russia (as Clinton’s mentor Obama seems poised to do right now). After all Trump and Putin are pals, right?

Color of Law

If you, like me, have been periodically receiving recorded messages on your voicemail from a heavily accented hypnotized Haldol user purporting to be from the IRS you will be relived to hear those calls were actually fraudulent. Yes, I know it is hard to believe. Indian authorities recently raided and arrested hundreds involved in this scam. If you’re curious to hear first-hand how the scam plays out for those willing to take the bait, have a listen to podcaster Tom Woods as he has a little bit of fun with them. It basically ends with the victim being instructed to purchase Target Green Dot cards (of all things) to stave off an imminent IRS raid. We may laugh at the notion that anyone could be so gullible as to fall for this scam but sadly at least 1 in 100 people did indeed fall for it. After the raid it was reported that these scammers raked in from one-hundred to one-hundred fifty thousand dollars every day.

Although we can agree their actions were contemptible, there is actually little separating what they were doing and what the IRS itself does everyday. Granted the IRS does not threaten people over the phone. No, the IRS is much more polite; they use the mail instead. I know. I’ve received many such letters over the years. And in every single case it was due to an error on the IRS’s part. In other words, guilty until proven innocent. Fortunately my issues were all resolved but not without unwarranted time and expense. But more to the point, the IRS is no different than these scammers even when the amounts owed are correct. Why are such amounts “owed”? Because someone somewhere scribbled ink on a piece of paper and bellowed the incantation “lllllaaaaawwwwwwww” over said paper in order to sanctify its legitimacy. The ostensible use of the idea of “law” in order to extract money from a victim is no more legitimate than the actions of such con-men. The fact that a “law” must be made to extract payment proves the transaction is not voluntary – were it so then no law would be needed. We don’t pass laws that stipulate you must purchase food everyday or else.

The same phenomenon exists with money. Counterfeiters are excoriated as contemptuous thieves who extract goods from society without producing anything of value. Their nefarious duplication of currency parasitically extracts value from all other currency holders. True enough. But if a “law” says the government, excuse me, Federal Reserve, may do the exact same thing, well, that is perfectly fine. This is the economic equivalent of a state granted license to kill and no one bats an eye.

So the next time we are cheering for the apprehension of a villainous criminal lets take a moment to shift focus from the mote in their eye and toward the beam in the eye of the state who is more likely than not engaging in the same practice but under the color of law. Remember, don’t steal, the government hates competition.

Pot, meet Kettle

Who here would voluntarily pay more income tax? Anyone? Now be careful and think hard here, after all taxes help support so many aspects of society (roads, schools, welfare, defense, science, economic expansion, etc.) that benefit everyone wouldn’t it be selfish to not do all you could do? Sure the government says you can deduct your mortgage interest, property taxes, and other expenses, but should you? Wouldn’t it be more patriotic to forgo those deductions so that you can more fully participate in the community of this great nation?

If this sounds both familiar and ridiculous at the same time there is a reason for that. The whole message of taking part in the common good of taxation is directly from the statist’s propaganda playbook. The ploy is to guilt you into compliance: if you are opposed to taxation you must also be against all those things taxes fund, right? So while we are instinctively “for” the things taxes fund, we each individually endeavor to keep our share of that obligation to a minimum. A tragedy of the commons in which we extract from the tax pot as much as we can (concentrated benefits of special interests) while limiting what we put in that pot. This tragedy of the commons is nowhere more apparent than in the hypocrisy of ideologues like Clinton who claim the “wealthy” aren’t paying their “fair share” all the while she and her ilk are none to happy to take advantage for themselves every wrinkle in the tax code that allows them to limit their tax liability. Pot, meet kettle.

People who complain about the tax code don’t have any actual experience with it beyond filing their 1040. I do (unfortunately) as a business owner and I can guarantee you there is no secret “check this box to get out of paying taxes this year” box on any of the forms. If the current rumors are true that Trump has not paid taxes for the last 20 years it’s not because he’s some sort of clever businessman or has really great tax accountants. There is one simple reason. He lost a whole lot of money! It is after all called an “income tax.” You must have income in order to tax it. If you lose money in one year and make money in the next you are allowed to offset the profit with the prior loss. If that seems unfair to you then I suspect you’d find nothing wrong with gambling following rules of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

That Trump has apparently carried this loss forward 20 years makes his hesitancy to release his returns all the more understandable. He is tremendously embarrassed by the fact that he hasn’t made any money in over 20 years. In other words, imagine if you had invested $100,000 in the stock market in 1995 but it quickly declined in value to $20,000. Now 20 years later it was again $100,000. Have you made any money?

If it somehow seems unfair to you that people not making any money don’t have to pay “invest in the system” then perhaps it is time to abolish the income tax and shift toward a voluntary user-pays system. Those that consume more will pay more and those that consume less will pay less. You know, like every other good on the open market.