Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Excusing Yourself from Rational Thinking

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has recently been subjected to a great deal of public criticism for comments he made concerning the root cause of persistent conditions of poverty in some neighborhoods in America.  As quoted in various sources available on the web:

“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

One of the commentaries that came to my attention is by Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post.  Mr. Robinson criticizes Ryan:

My problem is that when you identify something so amorphous as culture as the fundamental issue, you excuse yourself for not proposing concrete solutions.

Ok... so if Eugene's criticism related to a lack of concrete solutions, it seems reasonable to take a look at what solutions the writer himself suggests:

Alleviating stubborn poverty is difficult and expensive. Direct government aid — money, food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and the like — is not enough. Poor people need employment that offers a brighter future for themselves and their children. Which means they need job skills. Which means they need education. Which means they need good schools and safe streets.

So... basically the solution is that these afflicted poor require just about everything that mankind has required from the start of time... food, medicine, a roof over their head, a job that can provide them with funds, an education... If we went roaming through history would we not find these are the basics of life throughout time?

Somehow... enough people in history managed to overcome these challenges such that all of us are here today to contemplate Mr. Robinson's meanderings.  So what then is different today than in the past?

I'll take a stab at an answer: Culture.

The best and most effective solution for anyone living in poverty to rise out of that condition will come from the fruits of their own labors... their own efforts to learn to read, learn to write, learn to work, find work, etc. The desire to succeed and provide for themselves and their family... is most certainly a culture issue.

So maybe Paul Ryan is on to something... although I would guess his solutions to the culture problem would somehow source from well-implemented government programs.  In my mind, the current culture problems that our impoverished fellow citizens suffer from are the result of government programs.

For clarity: I don't presume to say here that striving as necessary to rise out of poverty is easy work, or that all of the impoverished will wake up tomorrow and start and succeed... nor that many are not already trying.  I'm not proposing a utopian resolution to the world's troubles.

I'm just pointing out that Eugene has not offered any better solution... which he notes himself in his next paragraph, as his suggestion can't actually be accomplished:

The list of needs is dauntingly long, and it’s hard to know where to start — or where the money for all the needed interventions will come from.

Just for fun... I'll point out that near the top of his piece Eugene suggested that money was indeed the problem:

The fundamental problem that poor people have, whether they live in decaying urban neighborhoods or depressed Appalachian valleys or small towns of the Deep South, is not enough money.
In summary:   Culture is a cheap way to escape from solving the persistent problem of poverty.  A much better way is to agree that the solution is more money distributed through more government programs that will all occur without any idea as to the source of the money in the first place.

I prefer Ryan's approach.  At least he's starting from a reasonable position.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Solution to IRS Overreach

The repurposing of the IRS to target and oppress individual taxpayers and select groups is a travesty for a nation such as ours.  Consider that these events cannot occur unless the entire organization has been corrupted.  To initiate these events requires the acquiescence of numerous staffers at various levels of the management chain.  To sustain these attacks requires nearly everyone to be complicit.

The people that are executing the oppression of American citizens through the overbearing application of the IRS enforcement powers are our fellow citizens... one person with one vote, just like the people they are oppressing.  They are our neighbors.  We all send their kids to the same schools.  We may even go to the same churches.

To halt this activity and restore the IRS to its intended non-biased activity would require a herculean effort of investigation and enforcement, an effort that would have to extend over multiple Congresses and multiple presidential administrations... and how would you prove that all of the canker has been rooted out?

Q: What circumstances allowed this corruption of the American System to occur?
A: The Income Tax.

The IRS was able to accomplish their treachery through the approval of 501(c)(4) status.  These tax rules are important because:

  • The entities do not want to pay corporate income taxes on the donations received
  • The donors do not want to pay income taxes on the money that they ended up contributing
The government is looming over the citizen on both sides of this equation.  This is an unreasonable restriction on the free movement of the money involved, and consequentially, on the freedom of speech that would be executed if the money were not subject to taxation.

Available Solutions:
  1. Eliminate the corporate income tax (Act of Congress)
  2. Eliminate tax deductions for charitable giving (Act of Congress)
  3. Eliminate the income tax (Constitutional Amendment OR Act of Congress**)

** ...Congress could make the current tax rate 0%.

Once the IRS, or any government agency, has been corrupted and converted into a weapon to suppress the opposing political party, the entire operation must be eliminated to ensure that the practice cannot be repeated.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Simply Put: The Purpose of Government...

...is to create, enforce, and adjudicate laws designed to protect the common man from tyrannical acts his fellow man is capable of committing against him if otherwise unbound.  The government receives its authority from the former, who has voluntarily ceded some of his own innate ability to accomplish this protective task himself.  This power is traded away by the common man both to capitalize on the more comprehensive ability of the government to execute these laws and to allow this man to focus his time and energy on the tasks at which his talents allow him to excel and thus he secures both a safer and more robust life for himself and his family than would otherwise be possible.  The voluntary concession can be revoked at any time, should the government stray from its side of the contract.  Regardless of the authority vested in the government, the individual man always retains the right to act to protect himself and his family from immediate danger.

Seems straightforward, no?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Immigration Breakdown

In the midst of the WSJ editorial today lavishing support on the GOP for plans to bring an immigration policy bill to the floor of the House in 2014, was a lovely nugget that we need more "lower-skilled workers who can help fill the labor shortages in many parts of the country."

We have labor shortages in America?  Who knew?  We should tell this nation's unemployed, especially those who have dropped out of the workforce, and let them have a crack at these unfilled jobs.

Keep in mind, that the ranks of unemployed are not having any trouble feeding themselves... as you consider the next line in the same WSJ piece:
Agriculture is among the worst off, and millions of crop acres go fallow or are left to rot due to too few farm workers.
The farmers can't get enough workers to harvest the food, but at the same time we have so much food that even those without a job have enough to eat... sounds like we don't need that extra food at all... so why should we bother seeking migrant workers to staff these fields?

As I've said before, the best immigration policy I can think of would be to encourage as many foreign countries as possible to seek freedom and liberty.  We would all rise on that tide, and many foreign nationals could find success in their own homeland... and we can stop having nonsensical arguments like those in today's WSJ.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plank: Public Employee Unions

As I went through American History in my schooling, I was instructed that unions grew in the United States for the noble concept of protecting the downtrodden employee from the mean and evil corporate boss who was trying to take vicious advantage of the common man.  The lesson would not be completed until we heard about the Triangle Factory FIre in 1911.

Ok.  So if that's what unions are here for... why do we have public employee unions?

Public employees work for the government.  The government is made up of the people.  The leaders of the government are elected by the people.  The wages of the employees are paid by taxes on the people.

Two thoughts:
  1. Public employee unions operate in opposition to the people and the people's representatives.  I.e.: they are fighting with their own neighbors
  2. Public employee unions are operating against the interests of their own members, by increasing the costs and burdens required to provide public services.
Position Statement: Public employee unions should be abolished as they are illogical by nature.

Remove the Veil of Income Tax Withholdings

Has anyone challenged in the federal courts the laws requiring an employer to withhold taxes from their employees paycheck and remit those payments to the government?

The requirements for income tax withholdings began with the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943.  Overturning this withholding requirement would push tax remittances back to the people who are being taxed.  The blinders we all have currently as to the amounts paid, and the separate line items we must pay for, would be removed.  The idea that we receive a "gift" from the feds each year when we receive a tax refund would be wiped out.  See this article from The American Thinker, which approaches the issue from a legislative direction.

In several searches on the web, I haven't yet encountered references to any cases that challenge the requirements placed on employers by these tax withholding policies.  Yet it seems this would be ripe for a challenge.

  • The employers are accomplishing the withholding at their own cost
  • The employers are accomplishing the remittance at their own cost
  • The employers are serving as an agent of the federal government, impacting the natural relationship forged with employees
I would think the first two bullets above would fall under the 5th Amendment, as private property taken for public use without just compensation.  The third bullet, and I think the most compelling, might reasonably be considered a 1st Amendment claim...

Washington State, being one of the several states without an income tax, would seem an excellent place from which to launch the lawsuit, as the issue would be limited to federal withholdings, and no separate state laws would enter into the picture to muddy things.

This in and of itself is a very appealing reason to run a company.  I would love to launch this lawsuit.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Questioning Authority

I opened a new tab on my Chrome browser this afternoon... and saw something unexpected at the bottom of the page...

In case you can't make that out:

"Your chance to ask the President a question"

...which resolves to this page plugging President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address and his policy agenda.

Google is now quite openly serving as a propaganda machine for Obama... while at the same time allowing me to publicly criticize them on one of their products, Blogger...  It's a trade off.