Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing you today regarding the IRS, the most un-American institution of our government.
We have accessed the IRS website to find a way to speak with a human being regarding a tax number for the estate of a family member as it is required for estate processing. Using the only number that can be found on the website and checked against the records of several legal firms in the area as the number to get those answers, all the telephone has done for two days is ring busy and after a period of time, disconnect. This is two days of labor listening to a telephone ring. This is not the only time I have had trouble with the IRS and the first contact was much worse.
We were in a catastrophic auto accident a few months after I made a mistake and had to take money from an IRA. My wife was near death (she has recovered to a small degree since) and I was badly broken and we both spent the next four months in the hospital. All of that time the IRS was on us and even began taking personal property without a hearing. Laying in serious condition in the hospital, I spent every available moment attempting to mortgage assets to pay the tax bill, as they continued harassment. If I put money in my checking account to pay bills, it was confiscated upon deposit. Even with verification that we were attempting to obtain mortgages and with clear evidence that we were likely (and subsequently were) approved, the harassment continued.
Following release from the hospital, my wife, now paralyzed and in a neck and body brace and I, barely able to walk, went to the IRS servive center in Saginaw, Michigan, to ask that the IRS back off a little as we worked, diligently, to get them paid. They refused.
I am sure you have heard similar and certainly worse cases than this, but it shows me that the third word in the name, service, is not what this agency is about unless you attach a perverse meaning to the word.
We are just regular Americans. We are not criminals and we are right with all creditors and have always been so. A quick check by the IRS of our credit would have shown that but instead, we were treated like criminals. This is a rogue agency out of control.
Further, the interpretations of tax law are in the hands of the IRS and it is the only court in the country that assumes guilt rather than innocence. I find no virtue in this supposition.
Let's take an example. If I were an accountant and earned only $30,000 for my services as such, yet other accountants earn $60,000 for their services, the IRS can insist that I, too, earned $60,000 and force me to pay taxes on that amount unless that I can prove that I did not receive that amount. How can one prove that one did not receive that amount?
Our tax laws are archaic, burdensome and are completely against the American ideal in which you are entitled to the money you earn, all of it, no matter how much it is. The graduated income tax is socialistic in nature and stifles productivity, right down to the person working overtime and determining it is not worth the effort as the government will take the rewards for doing so.
You commissioned a panel led by former elected officials to study the tax gathering process in the U.S. with the expectation that they would return to you a fair process in which productivity is rewarded, thus enhancing business and with which the citizenry would be dealt with in a fair manner. They instead returned to you only changes that would keep the current unfair and burdensome tax code in place.
This tax code is no longer in place to gather money from the citizenry but rather a method of social engineering and reelection. This is absolutely wrong. We don't need social engineering. We need social responsibility. We don't need people to be reelected through contributions by organizations seeking different treatment. We need our lawmakers to be reelected through performance. We need a new tax code.
There is one plan out there that eliminates the pariah, the IRS. It reduces the points of income from millions to a much smaller number. It is a radical departure from the current tax structure, not allowed by the framers of our constitution, to a tax system that was allowed. That tax structure is the Fair Tax.
I am asking you to take the lead here. I am asking you to have the fortitude to propose something radically different. I am asking you to back this revenue neutral plan to free the American citizen and business to do what we do best - produce without penalty. At the same time you will fix Social Security without reducing benefits.
You cannot be reelected. Your two terms are on the wane. You have an opportunity to step up and give the American people a much better chance to compete, to earn and to save. America is already the place to be on this globe. We are running into hard times in competetion with other restrictive governments and their manipulations allow their companies to compete, though not really in a fair manner. By releasing the tax disadvantages that hamper American growth, we will boldly go forth and we will permanently take our place as the greatest economy in the world, without challenge.
Once again, Mr. President, please step up, take the lead, and usher in a tax system that is fair, revenue neutral and growth oriented. Please promote the Fair Tax from the bully pulpit which you currently control.
By the way, a really important side benefit would be the elimination of the SS style IRS. The American people will love you for it. The American people will stand behind you and America will grow once again in a way such that you can hardly imagine.
God bless you, Mr. President, our troops and our nation.
Michael L. Spawr and Nancy L.K. Spawr
"We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. If the foundation be firm, the foundation will stand." —Calvin Coolidge
The answer to your taxation questions:WWW.FAIRTAX.ORG
Monday, October 24, 2005
Doug Bandow agrees with Lord Acton. Me too. The political commentator believes that the congressional Republicans are bent on proving the truth of Acton's famous axiom, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."Bandow writes, "The GOP began to sell out its principles shortly after seizing control of Congress in 1994, but the abuses continue to grow.
Today, as a few courageous House fiscal conservatives press for offsets against the virtually unlimited spending proposed in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Speaker and his coterie have acted like a woman scorned. Preaching unity, they have trashed any Republican suggesting that free-spending bail-outs are not the conservative way."
Bandow also says the Republicans are worse than the Democrats, having learned to lord it over the rest of us even more riotously during their own tenure in control. Now they're even making announcements about which investors should or should not invest in a DC baseball franchise.Are Republicans really so much more power-mad than the Democrats? Their record, when it comes to porkbarrel politics and dictating the fate of baseball franchises, ain't good, that's for sure.
But maybe it's just that every generation of career politicians finds ever-more ludicrous ways to run riot.Bandow is implicitly making a case for term limits. While ideology may matter on certain questions, it apparently does not matter on the question of which entrenched group of career politicians will spend us into oblivion. Both will, either will, given the chance. Birds of a feather flail and splurge together.
This is Common Sense. I'm Paul Jacob.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
(Boise) -- Today, Idaho State Representative and 1st Congressional District candidate Bill Sali (R-Kuna) called on Governor Dirk Kempthone to quickly convene a Special Session of the Idaho Legislature for the purpose of suspending the state’s 25¢ gas tax for a period of three months.
Idahoans for Tax Reform chairman Laird Maxwell wholeheartedly endorsed Sali’s call.
“It is time we gave Idaho taxpayers a breather from skyrocketing gas prices,” said Maxwell. “The state’s running a fat revenue surplus and instead of legislators ballooning the already bloated budget; give the folks back home a break.”
“With winter bearing down on us, cutting the gas tax would be a great relief, especially for families that are hit hard by ever increasing energy prices,” said Maxwell.
“Taxpayers were forced to cough up an additional 1¢ sales tax increase when the government was struggling to expand during the recession years, now it is time for elected leaders to return the favor,” added Maxwell.
He predicted that some politicians will “hurrumph” up plenty of excuses as to why we shouldn’t give the taxpayers a break. “But, I believe there will be enough momentum to cut the gas tax from their voters, that many of the big spenders will clam up and not openly object for fear of the backlash.”
Here are some headlines from around the country regarding gas tax cuts:
Democrats Push Bush for Gas Tax Relief
(TALLAHASSEE) -- Senate Democrats on Tuesday urged Gov. Jeb Bush to use his emergency powers to temporarily cut the state's gas tax to give motorists some relief at the pumps. (9-7-05)
Lawmakers Look for Ways to Cut Gas Prices
(AP) -- After prices shot up and panicky motorists topped off their tanks, causing brief shortages, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue last week ordered a month long moratorium on state gas taxes. (9-7-05)
Governors Should Ease Pain at Pump, Act Now on Gas Tax Relief, Nation’s Largest Taxpayer Group Urges
(ALEXANDRIA, VA) -- “Government can’t, and more importantly shouldn’t, try to control fuel prices, but it can and should reduce fuel taxes,” said National Taxpayers Union President John Berthoud. “By taking action now, especially at the state level, elected officials can not only help consumers cope with still-volatile gasoline costs, they can help the economy by easing the squeeze on businesses that need stable fuel expenses to thrive.” (9-20-05)
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
- Toilet Paper ...................... check
- Bud Light .......................... check
- Keystone Ice...................... check
- Budweiser .......................... check
- Red Dog .............................. check
- Misc. other bottles of alcohol ................... check
- Piece of plywood and air mattress to float your chick and booze on ................... check
Next time let's all be more prepared.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Final New Orleans death count: 964
French summer heatwave death count: 14,802
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
One of the funniest comedians I know, Jeff Foxworthy, has developed his comedy routine by providing a test for people who are not sure if they are a Redneck. For example he would say, “If you ever took a can of beer to a job interview, you might be a Redneck.” I started to think about the Republicans in my state and others who are not sure if they are RINO's. I was pondering that question and I started to think of ways you can tell if you might be a RINO. Here are some of my random thoughts in no particular order, however they are not meant to be funny.
· If you get the endorsement of the teachers union, you might be a RINO.
· If you go to political functions and brag about how much money you brought back to your district, you might be a RINO.
· If you’ve been reelected to the same legislative seat more that 3 times, you might be a RINO.
· If you have 2 or more close relatives working for the government, you might be a RINO.
· If you are holding more than one elected office, you might be a RINO.
· If you ever voted to raise your own salary, pension, or benefits, you might be a RINO.
· If you haven’t openly defended Wal-Mart who is under attack by the unions, you might be a RINO.
· If you voted to increase the “minimum wage,” you might be a RINO.
· If you ever voted to preserve open space you didn’t personally own, you might be a RINO.
· If you are endorsed by the Sierra Club, you might be a RINO.
· If you ever uttered something like “Conservatives can’t win in this state,” you might be a RINO.
· If you ever uttered something like “75% of the budget is contractual and nothing can be done about it,” you might be a RINO.
· If you ever said anything like “you have to compromise or nothing would ever get done,” you might be a RINO.
· If you ever abstained from a legislative vote to avoid controversy, you might be a RINO.
· If you use the word “fetus” to differentiate from an “unborn baby,” you might be a RINO.
· If you think property tax relief can't be achieved in the state capitol, you might be a RINO.
· If you describe yourself a “fiscal" conservative, you might be a RINO.
· If you have a solution to the high property taxes and it doesn’t include taking down the Education establishment, you might be a RINO delusional.
· If you never sponsored a bill that eliminates a government program, you might be a RINO.
· If you are endorsed by Planned Parenthood, you might be a RINO.
· If you think a progressive tax is fair, you might be a RINO.
· If you means-test any government benefit, you might be a RINO.
· If you think you can solve crime by passing laws, you might be a RINO.
· If you think gun control make us safer, you might be a RINO.
· If you voted to renew the Patriot Act, you might be a RINO.
· If you think you can reduce the crime rate without returning God back into the public domain, you might be a RINO.
· If you are endorsed by any union, you might be a RINO.
· If you think government can rehabilitate substance abuse better than faith based organizations can, you might be a RINO.
· If you think school choice will destroy public education, you might be a RINO an idiot.
· If you ever voted to form and fund a commission or study, you might be a RINO.
· If you voted to ban cell phone use while driving, you might be a RINO.
· If you think government should subsidize college tuition, you might be a RINO.
· If you support parental notification and banning partial-birth abortion, but can’t declare yourself as Pro-Life, you might be a RINO.
· If you’re politically correct first and practical second, you might be a RINO.
· If you need to take a poll to know how to vote, you might be a RINO.
· If you voted for stricter emission restrictions on vehicles, you might be a RINO.
· If you sponsor legislation for the purpose of telling the public you care, you might be a RINO.
· If you voted for CAFTA, you might be a RINO.
· If you don’t regularly attend religious services, other than during a campaign you might be a RINO.
· If you voted to subsidize private enterprise, you might be a RINO.
· If you are personally against abortion but don’t want to impose your values on anyone else, you might be a RINO.
· If you ever voted for a budget with added debt that has not be approved by referendum, you might be a RINO.
· If you support building a new stadium with public money and say it will not cost the taxpayer anything, you might be a RINO liar.
· If you support gay marriage or domestic partnerships, you might be a RINO.
· If you refuse to help business and residents from having their property taken from them to give to a prefered developer, you might be a RINO heartless thief.
· If you oppose allowing state and local law enforcement to round up “illegal aliens,” you might be a RINO.
· If receive the endorsement of a major newspaper, you might be a RINO.
· If you ever traded your vote to get a vote; “I’ll support your pork, if you support my pork,” you might be a RINO.
· If you ever voted for legislation or appropriations on basis of the Supreme Court’s say so, you might be a neutered RINO.
· If you believe the secret to political success is a “Big Tent,” you might be a RINO.
Once I started these thoughts, they just kept flowing. I’m sure you can think of many more, so if you have additional RINO indicators, I would like to hear them. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--- Joseph Tomanelli is President and co-founder of the New Jersey Republican Assembly, “The Republican Wing of the Republican Party;” he has earned a BS degree in Business from Ramapo College and an MS degree in Management and Operational Auditing from NJIT. He is also a CPA, former President of the Mahwah Republican Club, an elected County Committeeman, and a self-described RINO Hunter.
by Joseph Tomanelli
Monday, September 19, 2005
by John BerthoudPosted Sep 16, 2005
Across America, state politicians of both parties—joined by some strange bedfellows—are seeking to institute the Streamlined Sales Tax Project (SSTP), which would result in Americans paying billions of dollars more in taxes.
The SSTP is an interstate collaborative agreement that would unify state sales tax systems for the purpose of Internet transactions. Currently, if a consumer makes a purchase from a vendor with no physical presence in his state, he pays no sales tax.The SSTP is another money grab by politicians, dressed up in the garb of “fairness.”
The arguments for the SSTP are bogus, and as more citizens learn about it—and confront their elected leaders—let’s hope it will be defeated.
Proponents claim that unless we enact the SSTP, “critical government services” will be cut. The National Governors’ Association (NGA) has long agitated for the SSTP and has claimed if it’s not adopted, “America would have 200,000 fewer teachers and police officers educating our children and keeping our communities safe.”
But what the NGA and other pro-tax groups don’t tell you is that states are already flush with money. From 1994 to 2004, total state receipts rose by 63%. This is before the large revenue spurt that most states have experienced in 2005. State governments may need many things, but they don’t need another source of money.
The pro-taxers also claim that without SSTP, businesses selling products on the Internet are “escaping their obligation” to fund government. This is false.Businesses, on and off the Internet, are already overtaxed through a great variety of levies. These include: corporate income taxes, personal income taxes, sales taxes, use taxes, property taxes and literally hundreds of different types of fees.
When you buy a book on Amazon.com, it is not coming to you tax-free. There are dozens of taxes embedded in its price. But that’s not good enough for the pro-taxers. Hence, SSTP.
Fake ‘Fairness’ Coalition
Finally, the pro-SSTP crowd rolls out the “fairness” argument. They argue it is unfair that the sales-tax burden imposed on “brick and mortar” stores is not also imposed on “click and order” establishments.
But the playing field is currently quite level for traditional businesses as well as those born on the Internet: Any vendor can do business on the Internet, if it wishes, and there is no requirement for anyone to collect sales taxes on out-of-state vendors.So if the arguments for SSTP are all wet, how is it moving forward? An odd-ball coalition is behind it.
Public employee unions, who always want governments to have more cash, are for it because more government money means either more pay for their current members or more public employees who can become members.
Some retailers who haven’t been particularly successful in Internet commerce are also for it. They hope SSTP will slow the growth of their competitors who have been more successful online.
Instead of improving their own web presence, these retailers are trying to use the tax system to beat down their competition.Together, unions and self-interested businesses have formed a politically powerful coalition that has spent enormous sums lobbying on this issue. Those dollars have paid off. The SSTP is already coming partially into effect. This fall, 13 states will be requesting online sellers to start abiding by the rules of SSTP (see below).
There will soon be a major push in Congress to enact enabling legislation allowing states to require sellers to collect taxes under SSTP.
Instead of creating new tax burdens, Congress and the states should be focusing on ways to lower old ones.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Here is an excerpt from Associate Press' Aug. 13, 2005 report about a research project in Eastern Idaho:
(AP) -- The study began in 1995, when researchers at the federal Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, noticed that some rams refused to mate with female sheep. Of these animals, some showed no interest in males or females, and a fraction preferred to mount other rams
Researchers at Oregon State University think that new studies showing that about 8 percent of rams are "male-oriented" have the potential to help explain sexuality in other mammals, including humans.
The findings, by researchers at Oregon State, Oregon Health & Science University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sheep Experiment Station, suggest that homosexuality may be biologically driven, a hot topic in the perennial "nature vs. nurture" debate.
Common Sense: In livestock and other animals, males frequently dominate other males by mounting them. (Kinda like in prisons) For some of these alphas, that is all they do. Why do we have to pay for this crap!?!
Click the headline to read the whole story and other comments. Egad!
Friday, August 12, 2005
"George Orwell’s 1946 classic Animal Farm is a tale of the rising up of the long downtrodden animals to overthrow the hated humans and establish a new order. Under new management, the farm seems to move in the right direction for a while, but the pigs slowly decide that the lifestyle of their former masters was pretty good, and consequently morph into a ruling class indistinguishable from that which they displaced. Originally intended by Orwell to parody the Soviet revolution of 1917, one can now see parallels to the Republican Revolution of 1994. There is no better example of the new management’s taking on the manner of the old regime than the highway bill that President Bush signed this week."
Where do we go to surrender? -- SPUD
[Click headline to read whole article]
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Betsy Russell, of the Spokesman Review, posts the Johnson information on her blog Eye On Boise. [See sidebar for future reference.]
You can read her blog story by clicking the headline. [Photo: Sali]
One odd thing, though, she writes:
"Sorensen seems to be the best-informed of the lot – once again, it was her press release welcoming Johnson and Sali to the race that alerted reporters that they were in, before either had made a formal announcement."
Sali faxed and emailed out his news release last evening. It appears the reporters are not the "best-informed."
My guess is that when a conservative sends out a news release, it is automatically deleted or chucked in the trash can; if the past left-liberal reporting is any indication.
Only when a RINO like Sorenson meows does the press pay attention. Just one man's educated opinion.
Here is a photo of the Sali family.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Rep. Bill Sali at 922-5377
Sali files for 1st CD bid
(KUNA) -- State Representative Bill Sali (R-Dist. 21) today confirmed that he has filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Commission for Idaho’s First Congressional District.
When asked about the filing Sali said, “An ever-growing number of my colleagues and friends have encouraged me to enter the race. People want the opportunity to vote for a proven fiscal and social conservative.”
Sali stated, “I voted against the penny increase in sales tax two years ago. I am the only candidate in this race that can say that. Fifteen years ago I pledged I would never vote for higher taxes and I have faithfully kept my word. I will do the same in Congress”
He added, “I want to preserve, protect and restore the God-given liberties that were accepted by our forefathers as essential to human dignity. It is time to end the tyranny of activist judges, out-of-control bureaucrats, unprotected borders, erosion of property rights and a tax and spend system of government.”
Sali added, “My 15-year voting record proves that I will consistently support the Idaho Republican Platform and its timeless principles. The Platform represents the values of individual citizens from across our state.”
Sali said he looks forward to a spirited primary campaign and a successful general election.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Bastiat Still Right After 155 Years
I heard people give reasoned pleas as to why they deserve a tax cut based on age, financial standing, lack of receiving benefits of current programs (the public schools taking the largest hit) and owning property both in Washington and Idaho.
Every claim was a valid claim! I fear, though, in today's era, that each one would be content if they received their desired cut, while others did not.
There is a word that describes the reason for this -- should I dare mention it? I must. It is socialism. We must first learn its definition, learn how to identify it and learn why it is wrong.
Socialism, in its very nature, creates classes from amongst peaceful people who would otherwise not be at odds, and drives a wedge between them. It creates an atmosphere that breeds, in the lives of people, the desire for specialized exemptions (relief) at the sacrifice of other's freedom.
What happened to freedom and justice for ALL? Socialism must be stopped in our hearts before the effects of this heinous idea are removed from our societies. It must die a thousand, a million deaths for the survival of our nation, state, counties and towns.
But how are we to define it? The most brief definition I have found is, "The transfer (taking) of privately held property or liberty from the individual and giving it to another individual or group by force." This so happens to be a good definition of theft as well.
Try this test as suggested in an 1847-48 writing from Frederic Bastiat (The Law): "See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong."
Will you, the good people of Idaho, continue in this theft of property at the sacrifice of your fellow neighbors?
No more discussion about "HOW MUCH property tax," push for "NO MORE property tax."
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Of course, the stout Germans are outraged over this "tan ban," unlike their lily-livered outrage at gassing the Iraqi Kurds.
[Vocabulary boost: Pusillanimous -- lacking in all manly qualities.]
Will American trial lawyers start suing Hooters if they have an outdoor patio?
Liberty Spuds solution:
Well, it has been pointed out that some of your electronic equiptment like your VCR, DVD, television, computer, etc., have clocks that will not switch on and off of daylight time three weeks earlier and one week later.
Recording programs, and personal digital assistants may be an hour off. Egad!
I for one am so thankful the government has again given me the opportunity to spend more time messing around with silly things that take time away from keeping track of every expense to prove to the tax collectors that I am going broke.
SPUD NOTES: In his letter-to-the-editor Ken Boehme of Boise is awarded the "Quote" of the Day award. If Ken happens to get wind of this award (reads it or someone tells him he is a winner) Liberty Spuds will send him a free copy of "The Proper Role of Governenment" by Ezra Taft Benson.
If you would like to read Benson's timeless essay it is posted on-line at: www.properroleofgovt.org.
Here is the "Quote":
Property tax ideas
I would like to confine this discussion to the class of property which generates the most heat and publicity when people argue about property taxes. To begin with, property taxes, ultimately, are paid from current income or from savings. (If you don't believe that, try sending a bucket of dirt from your back yard to the tax collector). -- Ken Boehme (8/7/05)
Friday, August 05, 2005
These excerpts are from the Media Research Council article. Click the headline to read it in full:
Newly released findings from a May poll, conducted by Gannett's First Amendment Center in Nashville, discovered that an overwhelming 64 percent disagree with the statement that "the news media tries to report the news without bias." Only half as many, 33 percent, agree, down six percentage points from last year. And 65 percent agree that "the falsifying or making up of stories in the American news media is a widespread problem."
If you wonder how journalists can live in denial about bias and public distrust of the media, check out how the August/September American Journalism Review magazine headlined its story about the poll results. With a big "69%" in the background, the magazine's headline over a three-page article declared, "A Source of Encouragement: A new First Amendment Center/AJR survey finds that 69 percent of the public thinks journalists should be allowed to keep a news source confidential."
Now, I like spuds as well, if not better than the next guy. My dad made living in part because of spuds. I put myself through college working in spud fields. I've sorted spuds, planted spuds, sprayed spuds and have found some spuds as big as footballs that we would use to play catch with during breaks.
The Atkins diet is said to have put a hurt on spud sales with its low-carb, high fat regiment.
I don't remember, however, the Atkins folks "jumping up and down" in front of their meat lockers when spud farmers were recently struggling with prices so low it cost more to dig them up than they were worth. Some estimates top at a 5% decrease in consumption.
There is a German word, schadenfreude, that means taking joy at another's misfortune.
The smartest man in America, Thomas Sowell, (IMHO) recently penned that the not-so-latest fashion trend is for women to expose their belly-buttons. Some adorn their navels with piercings. Sowell noted it is obvious that in the modicum of good taste, some belly-buttons should be tastefully covered.
I agree. I will do my part for good taste and only expose my navel on the rarest occasions like when swimming or the occasional accidental reveal when my belly pushes my button shirt apart while I'm eating a BBQ hamburger and potato salad at a picnic.
Spud marketers have spent over $5 million in the last two years, hired famed feme fitness body Denise Austin to hawk that 7 oz. taters have only 240 calories. (Let's not add-up the butter, sour cream, ranch dressing or my fav ... cheese! Wink, wink.)
Just say NO to dry potatoes and NO to some exposed belly-buttons and NO to schadenfreude.
Click here for the Magic Valley Times article: http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2005/08/05/news_business/business.3.txt
Thursday, August 04, 2005
(BOISE) -- (AP) U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled last week in favor of conservationists who had sued the BLM, arguing that the agency violated federal regulations when it authorized increased grazing in the Jarbridge Resource Area, an expanse of rangeland southwest of Twin Falls that stretches to the state's border with Nevada.
Winmill ruled approximately 800,000 acres of the 1.7 million-acre resource area is no longer open to livestock grazing because BLM did not adequately determine the impact to sage grouse habitat in the 28 livestock grazing allotments that are authorized for use by 11 ranchers or permit holders.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is telling ranchers to remove thousands of head of cattle from nearly a million acres of public land in Southern Idaho after a federal judge found the agency addressed environmental impacts from grazing in a "patchwork-quilt manner."
Also, this is a photo of yours truly with Ann, whom I believe is one of the best writers of our age in the style of H.L Mencken. Her logic reflects the venomous truths.
Here are a couple paragraphs from Ann's Aug. 4th column:
The relevant question for a prospective justice, and it can be asked properly either by a president or a senator, is: "What, in your view, is the legal force of a Supreme Court opinion?" If Roberts believes that Supreme Court opinions are law of some kind, all is lost.
Now comes the news that Roberts says he respects "precedent" – which is another way of saying: We can count on Roberts to uphold the court's previous unconstitutional findings.
It doesn't help to have someone who thinks that, as an original matter, the Constitution says nothing about state abortion laws if he is then going to "balance" the law against "the integrity of the institution," "public confidence in our system of justice," "the need for stability and predictability," "the sweet mystery of life," blah blah blah. The problem with establishment types is precisely that they worry about everything except the law. Just get the law right and shut up.
Read Ann's complete column at: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=19021
The key point I would like to share with you is how the local teacher union bosses easily get the mailing list of school district employees from the government school district leaders. Thayn is attempting to procure the same list. Let's see if he gets jerked around from the bureaucrats. (They will likely give him the list in paper format, while the union bosses probably got in electronic format.)
Here is the content of Thayn's Aug. 4, 2005 letter:
Dear Friend of Freedom and Family,
Ruth Blau sent me an email with several great quotes. I will share them over the coming days.
1. We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. --Winston Churchill
2. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. --Douglsas Casey, Classmate of W.J.Clinton at Georgetown U. (1992)
The Gem County Education Association has sent a letter out to all of its members and employees of the district. I am not sure how they got all the names of every employee of the district.
I guess I will have to go to the school district office and ask for their addresses also so I can send out an alternative view. If they deny me, I will have to ask why they gave them to the GCEA.
Jamie Jeffery (President of the GCEA) states "We are all here for one purpose --the students." Are they really interested in the students? Or, are they interested in getting financial gain?
I too am only interested in the students. Help the students by voting against the bond. If we stop giving public education more money, the educators may join with us in deregulating the system.
A deregulated system would improve education. If they were really interested in the children, they would call for the children to stay home with their parents until they were 10 years old. I am tired of the same old retoric.
Michael McEvoy has told me that if you lie to yourself, you don't need to lie to anyone else. I am afraid that public school teachers have told themselves this lie (it for the kids) for so long. They believe it.
Further, Ms. Jeffery claims that voting for the bond will decrease taxes. This bond will raise taxes by $700,000 per year for the next 20 years. She also claims that 3 new gyms will improve education. I don't think so.
What education needs is more parental direction and control not more money. Why can't Ms. Jeffery see the real problem?
As Steven R. Covey states and I paraphrase "its not that large organizations cannot solve problems. They cannot see the problems." Public school teachers generally cannot see the problem.
The problem is that schools have taken the role of parents. Less taxes will improve schools, not higher taxes.
Never Fear, Steven Thayn
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
For full story: http://www.newsday.com/news/politics/wire/sns-ap-highway-projects,0,6603638,print.story?coll=sns-ap-politics-headlines
WASHINGTON -- (AP) When President Eisenhower proposed the first national highway bill, there were two projects singled out for funding. The latest version has, by one estimate, 6,371 of these special projects, a record that some say politicians should be ashamed of.
Meanwhile, according to a Cato Institute analysis, special projects or "earmarks" numbered 10 in 1982, 152 in 1987, 538 in 1991 and 1,850 in 1998. The 1998 highway act set aside some $9 billion for earmarks, well under half the newest plan.
"Nothing beats a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a new piece of pavement," said Peter Sepp, spokesman for National Taxpayers Union. "Road projects are regarded as a kind of government jobs program that Republicans can safely embrace."
Not every lawmaker came seeking gifts. Two conservative Republicans from Arizona, Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, wrote Young asking that the $14 million the committee was allotting to each House member for earmarks be sent instead to the state transportation department. Flake's office said that in the end he didn't take any projects, and Flake and Shadegg were two of only eight House members to vote against the bill.
Reps. Butch Otter and Mike Simpson and Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo voted for HR3 the Highway Porker Bill.
Read Williams full article (highly recommended) by clicking here: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/walterwilliams/ww20050803.shtmlExcerpts from Dr. Walter Williams:
Creating false distinctions between human rights and property
rights plays into the hands of Democrat and Republican
party socialists who seek to control our lives. If we
buy into the notion that somehow property rights are less
important, or are in conflict with, human or civil rights, we give the
socialists a freer hand to attack our property.
As President John Adams (1797-1801) put it, "Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty." Adding, "The moment
the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."
By John Stossel
My cable company made me a remarkable offer: They want to add a new channel to my cable subscription -- and you will pay for it. The channel will have liberal news, highbrow entertainment and a variety of educational programming. Sounds insane, and yet the channel isn't new. It's called PBS.
Public broadcasting is a classic example of welfare for the well-off. We PBS viewers are 44 percent more likely than other Americans to make more than $150,000 a year.
I enjoy PBS, but it hardly seems fair that the government demands you buy it for me. If I want to see opera, I should pay for it myself. Why should you be taxed to pump "La Boheme" into my living room? It barely made sense in 1967, when most Americans only had the Big Three broadcast networks, but now there are hundreds of channels. If there's a demand for opera or BBC drama, the market will provide it.
Read more: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/JohnStossel/js20050803.shtml
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Public schools waste so much
By John T. Wenders, Cato Institute
The biggest mistake an economist can make when analyzing U.S. public education is to presume that expenditures have anything to do with the necessary costs of educating students.
Economists instinctively presume that costs are developed by cost-minimizing producers weighing the productivity of various inputs and choosing an optimal mix. Total expenditures are then built from the bottom up.
In the U.S. public education system, this assumption is dead wrong. There, total expenditures are allocated from the top down to mop up available revenues. How much any public school spends depends not on how much it "needs" for efficient operation but on how much it can extract from taxpayers. These revenues are then dissipated among various squabbling constituencies to feed their continuous demand for taxes.
In the topsy-turvy world of public education, the incentive is for efficient, low-cost schools to imitate the less efficient, high-cost schools by spending more. The result is that U.S. public education is greatly over funded. Public school per-pupil costs are roughly 40 percent to 45 percent higher than those of private schools. When we take into account the larger number of private elementary schools and further adjust for special education, the difference narrows to about 36 percent.
Put another way, a minimum of 36 percent of public school expenditures is wasted.
Thus, U.S. public education wastes around $141 billion a year - about 1.4 percent of 2000 gross domestic product, or about $501 per capita. Add in remedial education and the total comes to at least $157.6 billion a year - about 1.58 percent of gross domestic product, or about $560 per capita.
The education establishment attributes increased costs to the onerous mandates of state legislatures and federal acts such as No Child Left Behind. To the extent that these mandates raise the cost of public education (and not all do), they simply represent some of the more visible mechanisms by which the waste is generated and dispersed among special interests.
Similarly, the requirement that public schools must admit any student is often cited as a reason for higher costs. But slower students are increasingly shoved into special education, and this program explains only about 10 percent of the cost differential between public and private education.
Further, a shocking 25 percent to 30 percent of all students are dropouts. Once dropped out, it is hard to see how nonstudents can impose increased costs on the public school system. If the diverse student body created by an open-admissions policy really produces public school inefficiency, it is an argument for reducing the monopoly enjoyed by the public school system and allowing for smaller, more specialized schools.
Most of the waste in public education is excessive labor costs. Over the period 1980 to 2000, national student enrollment grew by 15.5 percent, but total school employment grew by 37.4 percent, and teacher staffs grew by 35.2 percent. Public schools now have about one employee for every 6.5 students, and teachers make up only 40 percent of school employees. Our public schools have become vast jobs programs, reminiscent of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, rather than educational institutions.
On average, individual public school teachers' pay is well above that of both their private school counterparts and those in comparable occupations. Also, public schools employ a more expensive mix of teachers, and unions make it virtually impossible to fire even the most incompetent employees.
Wherever competition with or among U.S. public schools is found, the evidence shows better and cheaper public school performance. Abroad, both direct competition and the presence of surrogate competition in the form of curriculum-based external exit exams produce better, cheaper education.
John T. Wenders is professor of economics, emeritus, at the University of Idaho.
SPECIAL REPORT:Ten Most Harmful Government Programs
The programs elected by our judges don’t just cost money, they also attack our values and corrode the spirit of liberty that makes America the greatest nation.
As in previous years, we initially asked our judges to nominate programs for the list. The judges were then sent ballots listing the nominated programs. They ranked their choices 1 through 10, with No. 1 being the program they believed to be “most harmful.” A program received 10 points for each No. 1 vote it received, 9 points for each No. 2 vote, and so on. The program with the highest aggregate score—the Internal Revenue Code—was named No. 1 on the list.
When the ballots were tallied, we phoned spokesmen for the federal agencies responsible for each program to see if they could point out the constitutional provision, if any, that authorized the program.
1. Internal Revenue Code
Started when: 1913
By whom: Republican President William Howard Taft proposed, and Congress approved, the 16th Amendment in 1909. It was ratified by the states in early 1913, just before Taft left office. Newly inaugurated Democratic President Woodrow Wilson promptly pushed through a progressive income tax. Under President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939, the income-tax laws were formally consolidated into the Internal Revenue Code.
Why: To give the federal government a means, over and above tariffs and excise taxes, for raising revenue.
What it does: Takes large sums of money from American workers, and uses the threat of targeted taxation to manipulate the behavior of citizens. Behavior that politicians disfavor is taxed heavily. Behavior they prefer is taxed less, not at all, or even granted tax credits. Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation reports that the current code requires 893 different forms. The Internal Revenue Service has determined it takes Americans a collective 6.6 billion hours each year to complete all the paperwork to comply with the code. As of 2003, the code and its accompanying regulations totaled 17,000 pages.
Cost: In fiscal 2004, the IRS employed 99,000 people and spent $10.2 billion enforcing the code. The Tax Foundation calculates that it cost Americans $194 billion to comply with the code in 2002, and predicts that compliance costs will rise to $244 billion by 2007.
Constitutional provision: The 16th Amendment says: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
2. Social Security
Started when: 1935
By whom: President Franklin Roosevelt and a Democrat Congress.
Why: Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, designed to replace the family with the federal government as the principal means of providing financially for seniors who lack the savings to sustain themselves. What it does: The government imposes a 12.4% tax on the first $90,000 in income earned by every worker. Half this tax, 6.2%, is paid by the employee. The other 6.2% is legally paid by the employer (but, as conservative economists point out, in effect, also comes from the workers.) Self-employed workers pay both halves. The program has socialized the retirement of Americans, making most seniors dependent on the federal government for their livelihood: Two-thirds of beneficiaries now depend on Social Security for more than 50% of their income—a fact routinely exploited by demagogic Democratic politicians. Benefits for current retirees are paid out of taxes paid by those still working. When the system was founded, there were 42 working taxpayers for every beneficiary. Now, there are 3.3. In 2031, there will be 2.1.
Cost: Social Security took in $657.7 billion in taxes in 2004 and paid out $501.6 billion in benefits. Congress and the administration spent the $156.1 billion surplus on other things. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says Social Security faces $3.7 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years.
Constitutional provision: A Social Security spokeswoman pointed to the Social Security Handbook on the Social Security Administration website, and said, “It’s not going to relate to the Constitution, but it’s going to give you an overview of the history of the Social Security Act.”
Started When: 1965
By Whom: President Lyndon Johnson and a Democrat Congress.
Why: To provide federally funded health insurance to seniors.
What it does: The government imposes a 2.9% Medicare tax on all income earned by American workers. Half is paid directly by the worker; the other half is paid by the employer. Self-employed people pay the entire 2.9%. In return, the government provides seniors with hospital insurance, or Medicare Part A, which pays for hospital and hospice care. Also, for a modest premium, seniors receive supplementary medical insurance, or Medicare Part B, which pays physicians’ fees and outpatient care. President Bush’s Medicare prescription drug plan, or Medicare Part D, will begin next year (see Hall of Shame). These programs have socialized health care for seniors, making seniors dependent on the government not only for their income, but also for their medical coverage. Medicare now covers 41 million people.
Cost: Medicare spent $309 billion in 2004. Premiums cover only 25% of the cost of Medicare Part B. The other 75% is paid from general federal revenues. The GAO says Medicare faces $27.8 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years.
Constitutional provision: Medicare spokesman Don McLeod said, “I don’t know that issue.”
4. Tax Withholding
Started when: 1935 and 1943
By whom: President Franklin Roosevelt and a Democrat Congress.
Why: After imposing a “Victory Tax” of 5% on all incomes over $624 in 1942, thus vastly expanding the number of Americans who owed income taxes, Roosevelt and Congress enacted the Current Tax Payment Act in 1943 because they feared that low- and middle-income workers might not pay the new tax unless it was withheld from their wages. The Social Security Act of 1935 had already provided for withholding of Social Security taxes, paving the way for withholding of income taxes.
What it does: Tax withholding compels employers to withhold income and payroll taxes from workers’ paychecks and pay the money directly to the federal government each quarter before tax returns are actually filed. It allows the government to extract far more revenue from workers than would be politically tenable if workers paid the tax directly. In a study for the Cato Institute, Charlotte Twight notes: “[W]ithholding is the paramount administrative mechanism enabling the federal government to collect, without significant protest, sufficient private resources to fund a vastly expanded welfare state.”
Cost: According to the Congressional Budget Office, Americans will pay $1.689 trillion in personal income and payroll taxes this year—much of it withheld from paychecks by employers.
Constitutional provision: 16th Amendment, by extension.
Started when: 1965
By whom: President Johnson and a Democrat Congress.
Why: To pay health-care expenses of poor people.
What it does: Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that pays for health care for poor people. The federal government mandates that states include certain categories of people in the program and provide certain services. The states are free to expand the categories of people and services subsidized. Forty-six million people are now on Medicaid. The massive number of Americans in the combined Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the massive amount of tax dollars spent on these programs, means that a large segment of the U.S. health-care industry is already socialized. This gives the federal government tremendous leverage over health care in general, affecting the choices and freedom of Americans in and out of the programs.
Cost: In fiscal 2006, Medicaid is expected to cost the federal government $193 billion and the states $145 billion. Costs are exploding. “Over the next 10 years,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “American taxpayers will spend nearly $5 trillion dollars on Medicaid in combined state and federal spending.”
Constitutional provision: “Congress adopted a new title to the Social Security Act—Title XIX—and within that title created the Medicaid program,” Medicaid spokeswoman Mary Kahn said. “That’s its authority.”
6. Endangered Species Act
Started when: 1973
By whom: President Richard Nixon and a Democrat Congress.
Why: To protect and restore animal and plant species deemed “threatened or endangered.”
What it does: The ESA empowers the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine that a species is threatened or endangered, to determine the “critical habitat” necessary for the survival of the species, and to make regulations to protect the species in that habitat, even if it is privately owned. It also allows individuals to sue the federal government to force it to take action to protect a species. The law has been used by environmentalists in their efforts to stop development and economically fruitful activity in vast stretches of the West.
Cost: In a 2003 report, the FWS estimated that it cost $610 million in federal and state expenditures in 2000 to enforce ESA. “The true costs are probably four times that—not in the millions, but in the billions,” reports the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC).
Constitutional provision: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, which gives Congress the power “[t]o regulate Commerce … among the several States,” has been used in federal court to justify ESA—even when the species in question lives in only one state.
7. Bilingual Education Grants
Started when: 1968
By whom: President Johnson and a Democrat Congress approved the Bilingual Education Act, which was updated by President Bush and a Republican Congress in 2001, becoming the Office of English Language Acquisition under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Why: To teach non-English speakers in their non-English language, while trying to teach them English.
What it does: Provides grants by formula to states for teaching “limited English proficient” (LEP) students. A March 16, 2005, Department of Education press release noted: “Title III [of the No Child Left Behind Act] does not endorse or promote any specific type of language education program for LEP students, and states have the choice to use ESL [English as a second language] or bilingual programs.” The release reported that 40 states receiving grants under the program use “some type of bilingual program in addition to their English as a second language programs.” Bilingual education works against the American “melting pot.” In 1998, before California voters approved Prop. 227, which bans bilingual education in public schools unless parents request a waver to enroll their children in bilingual classes, Alan Ebenstein, a member of the Santa Barbara Board of Education, reported in the Los Angeles Times: “This school year, 8.5% of Latino kindergarteners in Santa Barbara schools were not born in the United States, yet approximately 85% of Latino kindergarteners are receiving most of their instruction in Spanish.”
Cost: In fiscal 2005, Congress appropriated $681 million for the English Language Acquisition program.
Constitutional provision: Ethan Allen, executive officer in the Office of English Language Acquisition, said he did not know.
8. Title X Family Planning Funding
Started when: 1970
By whom: President Nixon signed a law co-sponsored by then-Rep. George H.W. Bush that had passed a Democrat Congress.
Why: To fund clinics to distribute and promote contraceptives and, as Planned Parenthood puts it, “reproductive health care services.”
What it does: “In 2001,” says Planned Parenthood, “approximately 4,400 clinics, located in nearly three-quarters (73%) of all counties, provided family planning services funded by Title X. Of the 4.7 million women served by these clinics, 43% received care at health departments, 33% received care at Planned Parenthood health centers, 13% received care at other independent community-based clinics, 7% received care at hospitals, and 4% received care at community or migrant health centers.” Thanks to the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Carey v. Population Services International, these clinics can give contraceptives to children under 16. “As a result of this court decision,” says Planned Parenthood, “clinics supported by Title X funds have traditionally served adolescents on a confidential basis.” The law says Title X funding cannot be used for abortion. However, Planned Parenthood, a major recipient of Title X funding, is also a major abortion provider.
Cost: Title X funding grew from $6 million in fiscal 1971 to $288 million in fiscal 2005.
Constitutional provision: “[I]t is a judicial issue, which is not addressed by the Office of Population Affairs,” said spokeswoman Jeannine Nielson.
9. Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Started when: 1967
By whom: President Johnson and a Democrat Congress.
Why: The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 was designed to subsidize the growth of “noncommercial educational radio and television broadcasting” by creating the independent, non-profit, but federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
What it does: The CPB funds public TV and radio programs and public TV and radio stations. In 1969, CPB created the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to distribute CPB-produced TV shows. In 1970, it created National Public Radio (NPR) to distribute CPB-produced radio shows. CPB’s mission statement says it “has a particular responsibility to encourage the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities.” Translation: It funds programming with a liberal bias. Meanwhile, for-profit cable and satellite TV services now routinely offer their customers a choice of more than 100 free-market TV channels.
Cost: In fiscal 2005, Congress appropriated $390 million for CPB.
Constitutional provision: CPB spokesman Eben Peck said: “That’s a bigger question than I’m able to answer. You could probably ask the same question about any department or agency in the federal government.”
10. Sugar Import Quotas and Subsidies
Started when: 2002
By whom: Since 1789, there have been many federal laws and trade agreements governing the protection of the sugar industry. The most recent are the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Farm Act of 2002.
Why: To increase the price of domestic sugar.
What it does: The federal sugar program has two prongs: Tariff-rate quotas impose a high tariff on sugar imported into the country over set quotas, and a federal loan program props up the price of domestically grown sugar.
Cost: According to GAO, Americans pay $1.9 billion annually in higher costs for sugar and products containing sugar because of the federal programs. “The only protection provided by the sugar program has been to a handful of wealthy sugar barons,” reports Citizens Against Government Waste. “Less than 1% (17 cane sugar growers) of the nation’s sugar growers gobble up 58% of the program benefits. In fact, one grower alone received $65 million. Contrary to popular rhetoric, these are not small family farmers. Rather, they are wealthy members of the sugar cartel, which pumps millions of dollars into congressional campaigns to protect their precious subsidy.”
Constitutional provision: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 gives Congress power: “To regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
SPUD NOTES: Click here to read the full article from Human Events. It includes the Hall of Shame and other programs that should be dumped right away by the so-called Republican President and Congress. Too bad, they are actually RINOs, i.e., Republicans In Name Only.