A Tale of Two Economies
Posted April 16, 2018, 10:09 am
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…. it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Was Dickens really talking about our economy?
Over the past 17 years, this nation has traveled from the best of times to the worst of times and now, under President Trump, is leaving a season of darkness and returning to a spring of hope.
Swings in the economy are driven primarily by government policy and decisions as they relate to regulation, taxing and spending. Government decisions are often premised on forecasts and assumptions. Some turn out better than others but all can have profound impact.
A great example of this reality is looking today at the federal budget and tax policy in 2001 and what occurred in the intervening years.
To use the words of Charles Dickens, 2001 might be regarded wistfully as “the best of times” and why not. Things were good. The Dow Jones Index was near its all-time high of 15,000, G.W. Bush had just assumed the presidency and the U.S. Government had a balanced budget. Yes indeed, 17 short years ago, this nation had a balanced budget because the President and the congress worked together to produce such a plan. This was possible because we had just experienced four years of 4.4% real Gross Domestic Product (the total value of everything produced by all the people and companies in the country – GDP) growth for a number of reasons.
My point here is not to dissect the reasons for “the best of times” but, rather, to point out our national propensity to assume conditions will continue forever, ignoring the causality.
Immediately after President Bush was inaugurated in 2001, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Budget Committee that if current policies remained in place, the budget surplus would reach $800 billion in fiscal year 2011. He also predicted paying off the national debt before 2010. Greenspan was actually worried about what to do with the surplus money generated by the budget.
Events obviously did not occur as Mr. Greenspan forecast. September 11, 2001, the war on terror, Medicare Part D and various tax revisions changed the budget equation dramatically. Recession overtook the economy, employment declined and GDP growth dropped into negative numbers. The major point is that the economy was changed not by mystical forces but by political process, as it usually is.
All economic models are based on assumptions that are, in turn, based on projections about the future and in particular about how individuals will behave in the future and how their actions will be perceived by the market and how the market will respond.
The “best of times” of 2001 rather quickly turned into the “worst of times”. The budget surplus evaporated and we are now looking at a $2 trillion annual deficit. Why and why so fast?
The short answer? Bad assumptions – as usual.
Had the assumptions used in 2001 continued, we would have a $15 trillion cumulative budget surplus in 2028. That now looks more like a $28 trillion cumulative deficit, a swing of $43 trillion. Let me write that out just so everyone appreciates how many zeros are involved in that number – $43,000,000,000,000.
Why did this swing occur? Higher than forecast government spending, lower than forecast tax revenues, worse than forecast economic growth. The biggest impact, by far, was the anemic GDP growth of 2% in the 10 years prior to 2010. The difference between a 2% and a 3% GDP growth rate is huge. Low growth shrinks revenue and it compounds over time. Low growth leads to low revenue which, lacking commensurately reduced spending, leads to increasing deficits.
All of which brings us to where we are today. The economy struggled for the last two decades with low GDP growth and rapidly rising deficits. The key to reducing the deficit is increasing GDP to the 3% range.
President Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation are definitely helping the economy. In 2017 the GDP was near 3% for the last three quarters. This year, unemployment is at a historic low of 4.1 % for the sixth consecutive month. Average hourly earnings have increased 7%. The consumer Confidence Index remains high meaning people have a very positive outlook on their economic future.
The economic forecast for 2018 remains very positive with the GDP growth expected to be about 2.7%. Unemployment is expected to drop to 3.8% and inflation will remain a low 1.9%.
Manufacturing, a key economic indicator in this area, is expected to grow at 2.8%. The production of natural gas is forecast to increase by 10% and the price is forecast to increase by 12% which is great news for this region. This will mean a significant increase in employment in this important sector. All the counties in this area report declining unemployment in the past two years.
At the personal level, the stock markets are at or near all-time high levels, savings are up, 401k plans look good, companies are giving raises and paying bonuses and consumer confidence is high.
To maintain this, the GDP must remain near the 3% growth rate level. For that to happen, among other measures, taxes must remain low and government spending must be reduced. Budgets must be re-evaluated, healthcare spending must be checked and public pension reform must occur. There are no magic silver bullets, just hard choices. The alternative, the typical Democratic tax and spend approach, will lead to ever larger deficits, inflation, higher taxes, reduced buying power and economic stagnation.
The choices is ours every time we vote.
Ball is a Peters Township councilman and the vice chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
Posted April 2, 2018, 11:42 am
At 11:19 a.m. April 20, 1999, in the small town of Columbine, Colo., a tragedy of unimaginable proportions began to unfold. When it was over, two young men had gunned down 12 high school students. The nation was in shock. Educators, law enforcement, parents, community leaders and legislators were desperate to know why this had happened, and what could be done to prevent such acts in the future.
Today, 19 years later, those questions have not been definitively answered, but some of the answer seems to lie in the encouraging words of the first victim of the shootings. The words of an amazing young lady were recently brought to life by some other pretty amazing young people, the students of Peters Township High School and Middle School.
Rachel Joy Scott was 17 years old when her life ended that day. She was, by all reports and by her writings, a very sincere and compassionate young person, concerned for her fellow students and particularly concerned for those she felt were in pain.
In her diary, she wrote: “I want to reach out to those with special needs because they are often overlooked. I want to reach out to those who are new in school because they don’t have any friends yet. And I want to reach out to those who are picked on or put down by others.
“Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer. I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain-reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
In the years since Columbine, school violence has not ceased. On Feb. 14, in Parkland, Fla., another shooting occurred in which 14 students and three teachers were killed. This resonated in people for some very different reasons. Some saw it as an opportunity to prosecute their quest for more gun restrictions. Others saw it as a political opportunity to berate the current administration. Some local students saw it as an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion about how we might address the root causes of increasing violence in schools.
Associated with the first two groups, a segment of the Women’s March called EMPOWER organized a nationwide effort to encourage student walkouts on March 14, ostensibly to honor the victims of Parkland. It didn’t take a lot of discernment to see this group was more interested in using the walkouts as a backdrop for political protests.
When it became· known Peters Township was going to hold a “walkout” March 14, there was significant uproar. Parents and townspeople were concerned about the purpose of the “walkout” and the safety of students.
After Parkland, both the students and the administration wanted to do something. If some event was going to happen, it was, in the view of the administration, certainly better to work with the students and make the occasion positive, civil, teachable and to demonstrate trust.
The citizens of the town were assured by school administration that this was not a “protest” and it was not part of the national walkout. The “walk up” was, instead, a program designed by student leaders, with the assistance of the administration, to honor and remember those who perished at Parkland and to begin a meaningful conversation as to what could be done to eliminate school violence.
At 9:30 a.m. March 14, at Peters Township High, 19 student leaders with 17 balloons and student participants in the “walk up” event gathered in the gym. A student read the name of each person killed at Parkland and a story about them. They talked about how they could reach out to kids who were alone or felt apart, kids at risk. They then walked outside, released their balloons and returned to class.
In the middle school, the students walked around the halls for 17 minutes, reading the name of one of the Parkland victims every minute and then returned to class. They are now posting notes with random positive thoughts of encouragement on lockers.
There were no signs. There were no protests. There was nothing but sincere respect.
The purpose of all this goes back to Rachel Joy Scott. Very few school shootings are impulsive. Most are planned. Most are a cry for help. In virtually all cases, the perpetrator gave many signs and signals for intervention. In many cases, the children involved were ostracized, bullied, were misfits or had social issues. They were classic at risk students.
School administrators and teachers are vitally concerned about how to reach out to at-risk students. There are programs for suicide prevention and depression awareness. There are programs for identifying kids at risk for violence, rage, anger and bullying. There is a frighteningly thin line between a child contemplating killing himself and killing others.
On March 14, the Peters Township students did something amazing. They engaged in critical thinking about how they could begin to make a difference and then demonstrated some pretty radical compassion by stepping out of their normal circles and beginning to reach out to others. The front line of intervention is the students themselves. This is what our students spoke to.
Rachel Scott’s words live on.
Ball is a Peters Township councilman and the vice chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
Anarchy and Nullification
Posted March 19, 2018, 3:34 am
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” – Frederic Bastiat
Anarchy – the absence of government; a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority.
Society establishes government so that its people may live harmoniously together. People surrender to the government a small portion of their total freedom to establish mutually agreed upon laws to regulate the interactions of the citizens. The government, in the name of order and the greatest good of society, enforces those laws. When the government rules over a society that is increasingly disordered, disobedient, unjust and disrespectful, that society is on
a trajectory toward anarchy.
As we look around at our society, we see increasing disorder, disobedience of our laws and disrespect for the authority of our government. This condition was not always so in our nation. There is a correlation between this type of behavior and increasing government regulation and the attendant increasing government control.
The problem with our big and regulatory government is that it has continually sought to redefine its purpose and veered away from its original purposes. The founding values of our government were to promote the well-being of the individual. We are individuals as individuals, not members of any subgroup based on sex, race, age, occupation, disability or anything else. There is a very necessary linkage between the happiness of the individual and good governance.
It is said that regulation grows by “meeting a need”. Need-meeting regulation all too frequently grows into government-imposed regimentation, and regimentation quickly becomes suppression of individual freedom. The reaction to the deprivation of freedom is disorder, disrespect and disobedience, the definitive characteristics of anarchy.
To use an example proposed by Jeffrey Ludwig, consider higher education. As more and more students seek a college degree, more students seek student loans, leading to an ever increasing number of students dependent on student loans. As we saw in the 2016 election, Bernie Sanders played to this demand by advocating for free college tuition. Should such a program be enacted, it would require that students take a minimum number of credits and then lead to controls of what credits they take. This would then result in government control over what is taught. The result of “meeting the need” of financial support is the curtailment of freedom of thought and freedom of choice – the increased government regulation and control that is the precursor of dissatisfaction and unrest.
To pursue the chain of dissatisfaction one step further, market distorting control of what is taught leads to a mismatch between market demand for skills and skills produced, which then leads to deeply indebted college graduates with no discernible or marketable skills and even deeper dissatisfaction, disorder, disrespect and disobedience and unrest.
When unrest leads to chaos, the need to be met is order, which is frequently more police, more policing, more surveillance and more enforcement. The result is often physical confrontation leading to more chaos and the cycle perpetuates itself. All of this the result of regulation and control.
Recently, we are seeing this phenomena going into hyper-drive with the increase of illegal aliens, the increasing use of opioids, uncontrolled gang violence in major cities and the
apparent inability or unwillingness of municipal government to control or contain the situation. This is compounded by the refusal of major cities to enforce federal laws and, in at least one instance, outright obstruction of federal immigration enforcement.
As government has grown larger and more intrusive, prompting increasing regulation, control and regimentation, resulting in the predictable disorder, disobedience and disrespect, the left is clambering for even more government to solve the problem of growing anarchy that is the result of too much government. They will never recognize that size and power, in government, solve nothing.
In the particular case when disrespect and disobedience takes the form of a state choosing to ignore or obstruct a federal law, that is known as nullification.
Nullification is a legal theory that a state may nullify, or invalidate, any federal law that the state deems to be unconstitutional. Great sounding idea but it has never been upheld in a federal court. There were no statements in the Constitutional Convention asserting states have the right to nullify federal laws. Neither do the Federalist Papers assert such a right.
When states like California assert that they can ignore or obstruct federal law enforcement, they do so on no legal ground. They are creating disrespect, disorder and disobedience at a state-sponsored level.
The embrace of nullification by states, the idea that states can ignore or obstruct federal law as they choose, was the precursor to the Civil War.
This is not to suggest that we are headed toward civil war because of the irrational behavior of the left coast and Gov. Moonbeam, but one most consider the potential of such a “Black Swan” event.
Nullification efforts will probably be tied up in courts for years while the social order of places like California continue to disintegrate. When the illegal alien population becomes the majority, wealth-producing business has departed, the state is bankrupt and English is no longer the common language, the discussion may become moot anyway.
President Trump is making positive strides in reducing the regulatory nature of government, but it is so far just a beginning .Decades of cancerous regulation must be reversed and be replaced with state and local control as envisioned by the founding fathers and our Constitution.
When regulation decreases, the opportunity for the regulators to plunder vanishes and with it, the corrupt moral code that supports it.
‘The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.”- G.K Chesterton
Ball is a Peters Township councilman and the vice chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
Question Settled – Saccone is the choice
Posted March 7, 2018, 10:34 am
“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” – Joseph Joubert
State Representative Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb have now participated in two debates in their respective quests for the 18th Congressional District.
While the first debate was remarkably neutral in its questioning, the League of Women Voters turned the second debate into a made-for-a-Democrat special. Of the eighteen or so questions, thirteen were distinctly biased toward Democratic issus. The entire panel were registered Democrats and it showed. If the idea was to give Lamb an edge, he failed to take advantage of the opportunity.
If there was any question as to the tone the evening would assume, the moderator started the evening with a blatant effort to link former Congressman Murphy to the race. Yes, we all know why he left office. As an opening question it added nothing to the body of knowledge and was an unbecomingly negative opening salvo.
Following the opening was a question regarding holding town hall meetings phrased in a manner to leave no doubt that it was intended to stir up the Democrat base from “Murphy Monday” days. Rick Saccone has an excellent record of holding constituent meetings and Conor Lamb can only speculate about what he might do making it a pointless question other than its inflammatory value.
Continuing on with left wing hot button issues, was a question as to where the candidates stood, not on school safety, but on the left’s familiar issues of banning AR-15 rifles, banning bump stocks, and raising the age to buy a rifle. The questioner didn’t want to hear anything except the candidate’s stance on the specific issues. Not why each may or may not make any sense, just the anti-gun talking points. Rick Saccone pointed out that there was a ban on assault style rifles in 1994 and it had absolutely no impact so it was allowed to expire ten years later. He also pointed out that a young person could go into the army at 18, use real assault weapons, and return home unable to buy a civilian rifle under these proposals.
Following the specific-item line of questioning, another question was asked if the candidates supported spending billions of dollars on building a border wall as opposed to spending on the opioid crisis, education or infrastructure. This, of course, is a false equivalency and Rick Saccone was quick to point out that they are not mutually exclusive, the choices are not either/or. All the choices are important, except, apparently, to the questioner. Lamb ranked the choices as infrastructure, opioids, education and the wall. It would be interesting to see what he would really do if actually given the chance to consider budget priorities and tradeoffs considering the political priorities of his party.
Then came a couple more made-for-the-Democratic-agenda questions. The first was “Do you believe Healthcare should be a civil right”? Legally, a civil right is defined as, “… an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of the individual’s membership in a particular group or class.” The government has no Constitutional Mandate to provide healthcare. If healthcare were a civil right, it would have to be applied equally to everyone, regardless of income or position. Those two conditions are not true so it is not a civil right. Under previous Democratic administrations, government provision and subsidy of healthcare has grown, culminating in the nation- bankrupting Affordable Care Act. Saccone, who believes that healthcare is best managed by the free market, agreed that many reforms are possible but healthcare is not a civil right. Lamb said it was a civil right (in the Democratic mind) and advocated that the disastrous Affordable Care Act was the solution, going so far as to say that the ACA “was making great progress”. At what; bankrupting the nation?
The other made-for-the-Democratic-agenda question was with regard to pending tax legislation that might reduce state access to Medicaid funding. The question was, “will you protect current levels of funding? Will you support optional community based services?” These are real questions but are well beyond the purview of any individual legislator. The answer to mega-funding is tied to overall funding distribution. Saccone stated that his record demonstrates he has always supported community based services. Lamb used the opportunity to launch into a soap box speech.
The differences between the questioning in the two debates may have been substantial but the picture of the two candidates remained consistent.
Conor Lamb is a liberal Democrat who is struggling to look like a moderate. In both debates he bobbed and weaved around the abortion issue, claiming to be a Catholic and a pro-choice supporter. He can’t be both. He claims to be a supporter of the Second Amendment but his party is not. He will vote to diminish the Second Amendment. He clearly supports the Unaffordable Health Care Act. He clearly supports large and incredibly expensive social service programs. He says he supports the energy industry but in the next breath says he supports all the unsustainable alternate energy boondoggles. Those will be paid for by increased taxes on what? Energy. That’s the only way they even look viable. Again, he can’t have it both ways. He hasn’t thought it through.
Lamb’s answers in both debates show him to be an inexperienced liberal Democrat.
Rick Saccone is an experienced legislator with a legislative track record. He supports President Trump’s programs, the programs that have grown our economy, created jobs, gotten rid of onerous regulations, begun to restore our military from the atrophy of the Obama years and created an optimistic can-do attitude in business. His answers to the questions in both debates support this.
The question of the superior candidate has been debated and settled. Record over rhetoric. It’s Rick Saccone.
First Debate Reveals Lamb is Lost
Posted March 5, 2018, 10:14 am
“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”– Peter Hitchens
Republican State Rep.Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb faced off in the first of two scheduled debates of the closely watched race for the 18th Congressional District.
While numerous topics were covered, I would like to focus on three for several reasons: They are vitally important; they are clear indicators of the relative qualifications of the candidates, and they were not covered sufficiently.
The three subject areas are abortion rights, minimum wage and the president’s tax cut.
Saccone’s position on abortion is crystal clear. He is opposed to it. He has introduced bills in the Legislature to limit abortion rights.
Lamb, on the other hand, is apparently trying to play both sides against the middle. In his media ads, he clearly states that he is a Roman Catholic and poses in his Pittsburgh Central Catholic attire in an attempt to garner the Catholic vote. The fact is he supports the Democrat pro-abortion position. He wants the Catholic vote but rejects core Catholic teaching that abortion is evil, that it is murder of an innocent child. Either he is not a Catholic or he is not a Democrat. He can’t have it both ways.
During the debate, Lamb was asked about this and said he believed that life begins at conception (Catholic position). He then said, “I also believe in separation of church and state. What we’re running for here is Congress, not cardinal. I don’t believe that my personal religious beliefs should dictate the legal rights of women all over this country.”
This is an illogical cop-out demonstrating no commitment to values, no understanding of the law and a distortion of the establishment clause (separation of church and state).
If Lamb really is a Catholic and really does believe life begins at conception, then killing a fetus is murder. If one kills a pregnant woman and the unborn baby also dies, one is charged with killing the mother and the baby under Pennsylvania law. He claims to have been a prosecutor. He should know this.Section 3203 of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code defines an unborn child as: “unborn child” and “fetus.” Each term shall mean an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization to birth.
Murder isn’t a religious issue. It is a legal one. Lamb can’t duck that.
Likewise, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” has nothing to do with abortion.Abortion is a legal issue.
In trying to appeal to Catholics and pro-abortion Democrats, Lamb demonstrates only that he holds no conviction for Catholic teaching and is a puppet of the Democrat left like Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Mike Doyle, Bill Peduto and the rest.
The discussion of minimum wage was equally telling.
Saccone is opposed to raising the minimum wage. He favors allowing the free market to determine wage levels.
Lamb again tried to find a convenient place to hide. “Yes, it should be raised”, he stated. The suggested $15 was maybe too much. Maybe $10 was better; no logic was given. Then he went off into some hallucination about “indexing” minimum wage to specific areas. Maybe the minimum wage should be different in one part of Pittsburgh than another or in Philadelphia than some other area of the state, he opined. In what world could that possibly work? Lamb obviously has no experience designing, implementing or running anything. Talk about creating an administrative nightmare.
The larger issue, however, is that minimum wage is an artificial distortion of the free market supply and demand relationship. Ifwages are artificially increased, the market will demand less labor; that is, employment will be reduced. Employers will not be able to afford the same number of more expensive workers, so they will cut employees, reduce hours or replace employees with less expensive technology.
A good example of this is super-liberal Seattle, where the city raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour. A recent study by the University of Washington clearly indicates low-wage employees have been hurt, not helped. Employers have reduced their payrolls, delayed or canceled new hires, laid off workers and reduced hours. The average low-end worker in the city has lost $128 a month because of the wage increase.This is what Lamb is proposing.He isjust not smart enough to know it.
The third area of discussion is the president’s tax reduction. Here, perhaps, the distinction between the quality and experience of Saccone and the inexperience and Democrat sycophancy of Lamb are most apparent.
Lamb parroted the Pelosi line about the tax cut being only for the super rich and not helping the middle class. “Crumbs,” she and Conor called it. He stated the tax cut was “mostly for corporate donors.” He said the plan would “cost $1.5 trillion,” and his plan, one he never defined, wouldn’t cost a dime. He forgot to mention that the $1.5 trillion figure is a guess spread over 10 years. He seemed also to be unconcerned about the very real $10 trillion in debt the Democrats added to the debt during Obama’s tax and spend regime.
Saccone suggested Lamb look around at the thousands of jobs created in the 18th Congressional District by President Trump. Look at the lowest unemployment in history. Look at the value of employee’s 401 k plans. Look at the bonuses and pay raises they have received because of the president’s tax cut. Lamb simply doesn’t get it. The people of the 18th District do not want to return to the Obama years. They like their “crumbs.”
There’s no comparison .Saccone has demonstrated how to think. Lamb has been told what to think.
The second debate was scheduled for last night.
District would be well served with Saccone in Congress
Posted February 12, 2018, 9:55 am
Representatives of the Republican Party in the 18th Congressional District met in November to select its candidate for the March 13 special election to replace Congressman Tim Murphy. The conferees were hardly out the door before speculation started regarding what the selection of State Representative Rick Saccone portends.
A little more than a year ago, 103,000 Washington County voters went to the polls to elect a President. An overwhelming 60 percent of them said that they were concerned about the economy, jobs, energy, immigration, taxes, healthcare, the Second Amendment, the First Amendment and abortion. That 60 percent voted to send Donald Trump to the White House.
If voters select Saccone in the special election it will provide President Trump with a vocal and experienced ally – a person who has demonstrated he will not back down on the issues that elected the President and that his constituents still care so deeply about.
What will Representative Saccone face in Washington should he go there?
Most obviously, he will find a bitterly divided congress, one in which the word “bipartisan” is but a quaint artifact of times gone by. The Democrats have no agenda other than to obstruct the President. The President needs clear conservative voices of support. He will have one in Rick Saccone.
According to economic indicators, the U.S. economic outlook is very healthy. The gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the nation’s production output, is growing at a rate of 2 to 3 percent a year, an excellent rate of growth. The GDP is expected to increase to 2.4 percent in 2017.
Despite this past week’s fluctuations, the stock market is at record high levels having set over 40 record closes this year. In the last quarter alone, the net wealth of Americans rose by $96 trillion. Stock portfolios increased $1.1 trillion and home values increased $600 billion. This increases retirement accounts and college funds, reduces debt and improves overall financial security.
U.S. manufacturing is expected to grow faster than the economy as a whole. It is expected to increase by 2.8 percent in 2018. These will be increasing when President Trump’s job creation programs take hold.
Oil and gas prices have been low. While some volatility is expected, prices are estimated to average about $54 in 2018.
Saccone will find an excellent employment situation should he get to Washington with the unemployment rate at 4.1 percent where it has been since October, the lowest rate in 17 years. Representative Saccone will find a greatly improved immigration situation but one still in need of much work. Roughly one million immigrants enter this nation every year although the President has reduced illegal immigration by 66 percent. Our workforce still includes eight million illegal aliens, accounting for 5 percent of the employed or those looking for work. They are displacing American workers. The President will continue to reduce illegal aliens entering this country and to deport the criminals who are here. He will have an ally in Representative Saccone.
President Trump has appointed one outstanding Supreme Court Justice and a number of excellent Federal judges. That is significant because it is likely that several Second Amendment cases may reach the court soon. Rick Saccone is an outstanding advocate of the Second Amendment who has promoted meaningful legislation at the state level and will continue that focus in Washington.
How is our nation and how will the selection of State Representative Rick Saccone affect Washington County? The nation is in much better shape now than it was under Obama. President Trump is leading the way back from the unsustainable Socialist disaster that was being constructed. The unapologetically biased media continues to refuse to report the reality of the progress. They dwell on negativity, fanning the flames of identity and gender politics as well as class warfare. That will be overcome with time.
The choice in the March Special Election will be stark. A strong conservative of unimpeachable integrity who espouses and supports the principles and values that are driving the resurgence of the American economy. A man who knows the energy industry, job growth and democracy, the things that Washington County values and has spurred growth in this region, a man with ready to use foreign affairs and counter-intelligence experience, or a Democrat who offers no experience and no platform other than a return to the smothering big government, anti-energy regulatory environment that was strangling our economy and shredding our Constitution under Obama.
Growth and democracy versus stagnation and socialism. That will be the clear choice.
Sending Rick Saccone, a good and true conservative, to Washington to help the President pursue his Pro America agenda would be nothing but good for Washington County and the United States of America.
What’s at stake in the 2018 elections
Posted January 22, 2018, 9:48 am
“The greatest threats to democracy are comfort and apathy.”
– T. Rafael Cimino, “A Battle of Angels”
We are three weeks into an epic election year. At the top of the card, we have the election of a governor, lieutenant governor and a U.S. senator. In Washington County, we will hold special elections in the 18th Congressional District and in the 48th Legislative District, and regular primary and general elections for all state representatives and a state senator.
Political ads are already appearing in broadcast and social media, and in our mailboxes. They will do nothing but intensify between now and November. Whi le the details of the ads will be many and varied, this year’s elections will divide themselves exactly the way our nation is divided.
The most basic divide is how people see the role of the government in their lives. Do they see the government as responsible for, and therefore controlling, their lives and their well-being? Or do they see themselves as controlling the government. and therefore being responsible for themselves and their own lives? How people answer these questions determines. in large measure, their view of economic, foreign and military policies and social issues.
The differences are stark and, in the eyes of large portions of the electorate, becoming existential to both the nation and their own lives.
The left, in general, favors a larger government and extensive government involvement to control the lives of citizens. They believe that it is the duty of the government to provide for every need of its citizens. and to solve people’s problems. It is the government’s responsibility to respond to community desires. Decisions are based on group desires rather than an individual’s constitutional rights. No individuals entitled to profit from his or her efforts since that comes, by their definition, at the expense of other members of the community.
They believe in high taxes to finance hugely expensive social programs, and believe that the government knows how to deploy capital better than individuals do. The left generally takes a more globalist view of international relations, which translates to less defense spending and more liberal trade and immigration policies.
The right, in general, favors smaller government and more personal responsibility. Itfavors free markets, individual liberties, traditional American values, secure borders and a strong national defense. They generally believe the role of government should be to provide people the
freedom to pursue and achieve their own goals, and to see their efforts rewarded. They believe in strict adherence to the Constitution as written, and to the rule of law. They do not believe judges can or should legislate from the bench. They believe in low taxes, because private individuals will more efficiently deploy capital in the economy than the government.
How these ideas will play out is already apparent at many levels.
In the gubernatorial race, Gov. Tom Wolf has demonstrated he is a rabid proponent of government regulation and its involvement in all facets of a citizen’s life. He has promoted laws to over-regulate nursing homes, gas drilling, mining, professional trades, almost everything one can imagine. He has frequently proposed tax increases. He has signed one budget in three years. He has promoted social service expansion and increased the size of government. The Republicans lining up to run against him are all promoting smaller government, lower taxes, reasonable regulation, conservative judicial appointments and balanced budgets.
Bob Casey must run on a record of invisibility, modest achievement and support of liberal legislation in the U.S. Senate race. His apparent opponent will be a clear conservative whose record solidly supports the values of the right. This will be a race of absolute contrasts – Casey supporting President Obama’s failed policies or probable Republican nominee, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, supporting Trump’s successful policies.
In the 18th district race, we will see Democrat Conor Lamb, a political newcomer with no experience, compete against an experienced legislator in Rick Saccone. Saccone is a conservative state representative with a legislative record and endorsements to back up his positions. Lamb is apparently attempting to play a moderate, because he knows that the radical left posture of the current Democratic Party is a loser in this district. He can say he will buck the leadership, but in the end, if by some chance he were elected, he will end up voting the established Democratic anti-business line because he will be told to.
The big divide will remain, and voters will either choose to continue prosperity with Saccone or to drive businesses out of the district with Lamb.
In state legislative races, reliably conservative John Maher will continue his tenure in the 40th Legislative District. In the 48th Legislative District, a special election will pit a young, inexperienced and liberal Democrat against a Republican yet to be selected. The Democrat, Clark Mitchell Jr., has already staked out traditional Democratic positions appealing to unions and is a liberal on social issues. Whoever the Republican candidate is, given the field, will assuredly espouse solidly conservative positions.
There will be little gray area this year. The choice will not be nuanced. It will be clearly one or the other in this election. Do you believe that we, the people, control government, or that the government controls us? Do you believe that we are responsible for our success or failure, or is that the government’s job? Do our Constitution and our laws determine how our society is governed, or do judges decide from the bench? Do we
control what we earn,or do we turn it over to the government because it knows better how to use it? Shall our borders be secure, and our nation remain strong, or do we gut our military and open our borders (and our job market) to all comers?
It’s up to us to overcome comfort and apathy. Go out and vote.
It Was a Very Good Year
Posted January 8, 2018, 10:40 am
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us”. – Hal Borland
By any account, other than that of the main stream media and the left, 2017 was a very good year. This nation returned to economic growth and a positive business environment not seen during the business killing years of the Obama administration. The unemployment rate is at a 17 year low for all ethnic groups. The Stock market set 87 new high closes during the year. President Trump is well on his way to restoring our court system to one based on the Constitution and the rule of law with the appointment of Justice Gorsich and 73 additional federal judges. Illegal immigration is down 50%. The President’s new tax plan is now a reality and its impact already being felt. The onerous Obamacare mandate has been repealed. Yes, 2017 was a very good year.
By what other measure do we know it was a very good year?
Rather than examining the usual numbers and metrics, maybe the best way to judge that is through the eyes of real people in this area. Real people whose lives are affected by government policy and laws.
There are many examples I could cite but let’s look at two.
The first is a young family with two children who live in southern Washington County. The husband is an underground coal miner and his wife is a stay at home mom raising their two small children.
The husband has an excellent job as a skilled equipment operator, makes very good money and has excellent benefits. At least he does when the mine is operating.
The Obama administration’s war on coal threatened to devastate the coal industry in this region, and with it, the lives of people like this couple.
“Before the 2016 election, our lives were on hold”, said the wife. “Hillary Clinton and the Democrats said they would regulate our industry out of existence, and with it, my husband’s job. We heard her say that. Obama was already doing it.”
“We stopped spending money. We saved everything we could. We weren’t just worried about our immediate future, we were worried we had any future if Clinton got elected and so were hundreds of our friends and neighbors.”
“That’s when I decided I had to stop just worrying and get involved. Along with other coal miner’s wives, coal miners and energy industry people, we organized a massive voter project to elect President Trump who promised to protect our industry and our jobs.”
“President Trump has been delivering on his promises. Our family had a great 2017, my husband’s job is safer, he receives regular bonuses shared by his company and a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders.”
“The battle isn’t over and maybe never will be. Right now, we have a Congressional election where the Democrats are running a young man with no experience who will very likely be exactly like Pelosi, Clinton and all the Democrats before him, trying to regulate our industry and jobs away. The Republicans are running Representative Rick Saccone, a man we know and trust as a friend of the coal industry and someone who will continue to support President Trump in protecting our jobs. Voting for Saccone is a pretty easy choice for coal miners.”
“We hope 2018 is another great year like 2017.”
The second example is a couple who have lived in Peters Township for many years. The husband is a small business owner whose company supplies sub- station and lifting equipment to industries in the Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia area. It has been a pretty successful business, employing a number of workers and sales people.
Many of his customers were severely impacted by the recession of 2008. Orders dried up and with that, so did income. Times were very difficult. Recovery from the recession was very slow.
“My clients were hurt badly. Some went bankrupt. Others were very hesitant to spend money in the anti-business environment under Obama. They certainly were not buying my products.”
“My business was on the verge of bankruptcy several times. Many of my competitors disappeared. I had no employees and I wasn’t getting a paycheck. I just kept pushing ahead as best I could.”
“In 2016, you bet I voted for President Trump. He understands business and promised to restore business in America. Thank God he won. He’s delivering on his promises. I’d hate to think where we’d be if we had to deal with Clinton.”
“From the day he was elected, the attitude in business changed. Owners have hope again. My clients are looking ahead and talking about investing in their businesses. It wasn’t long before orders started coming in. My orders tripled. Business is excited. My customers are hiring because they are getting orders. My suppliers are hiring. I am hiring two more sales people and am looking at expansion this year.”
“By any measure, 2017 was a great year.”
2017 was a great year as judged by those who really lived it. They matter. Not the media, not those who simply hate President Trump, not those in academic echo chambers.
Despite fighting the fiercest headwinds of any President in history, President Trump is succeeding and, more importantly, the country is succeeding. The only way to derail this success would be to turn the reins of government back over to the proponents of the failed tax and regulate, anti-business Obama policies. 2018 will see a number of important elections. We must keep a positive business environment in Pennsylvania by replacing Governor Wolf and Senator Casey and electing Rick Saccone to Congress.
Let us take the wisdom that experience has instilled and “go on”.
Let’s Put Some Truth Into The Tax Discussion
Posted December 25, 2017, 11:38 pm
“In 1790, the nation which had fought a revolution against taxation without representation discovered that some of its citizens weren’t much happier about taxation with representation.”
— Lyndon B. Johnson
Lost in the torrent of inane chatter in today’s media is virtually any informed and meaningful discussion of truly significant issues including the President’s tax reform legislation.
The discussion that is available often represents the dishonest framing of issues by the media and the left. The misinformation, disinformation, distortion and outright inaccuracies are astounding and all too often go unchallenged. Worse, they are parroted as “fact” by the Main Stream Media.
The left would have us believe that the Trump tax proposal will cost more than a trillion dollars. We are told that the proposals will cause a catastrophe in the budget and that by 2027 we will see fiscal Armageddon, that the proposals will somehow impart untold new wealth to the wealthy while pushing widows and orphans into the street, that “13 million people will lose healthcare coverage” and that the only winners are large corporations. It just goes on. These inflammatory talking points appear regularly in liberal editorials and are echoed, without substantiation or understanding, in talking point letters-to-the-editor and in social media posts.
Much of the criticism concerns events that may or may not occur a decade in the future. Looking into the economic future is difficult and it is extremely difficult when one makes no allowance for change. It is virtually impossible when many of the assumptions and conclusions used in these doom and gloom projections are simply wrong based on basic and observable economics.
Start with the idea that cutting taxes will be “costly”. The problem here is a difference in perspective between conservative Republican and liberal Democratic fiscal principles. Democrats believe that all taxpayer money somehow belongs to the government and the failure to collect the maximum amount from the people is a cost. Under this view of taxation, the government will determine how much of your assets you should be allowed to keep after it determines the proper priorities for money in the economy.
President Trump and conservative Republican principles, supported by our Constitution, believe that the people own their assets. The people determine how much to allocate to the government to be used for purposes determined as proper by the people.
Conservative Republicans believe that people know better than the government how to wisely manage and spend their money and can do a better job than the government in buying health insurance. Democrats do not have that level of confidence in the people.
Moving beyond the left’s flawed understanding of who owns the money that becomes tax revenue, is the second great flaw, that decreasing tax rates decreases total revenue to the government.
Three great examples exist in recent history where tax rates were cut significantly and government revenue increased.
The first example was 1961 to 1963 under John Kennedy. He decreased tax rates and government revenue rose 5 percent a year.
The second is between 1982 and 1988 under Ronald Reagan. He implemented tax rate cuts in 1982, and government revenue increased 50 percent between 1983 and 1988.
The third is between 2002 and 2007 under G.W. Bush. He cut tax rates in 2002, and government revenues increased 39 percent over five years.
Clearly, deficits are caused by proliferate spending and not tax cuts. Major spending programs are rarely temporary, as advertised, and once a budget is increased, it seldom is decreased when a crisis passes.
Then we move on to the leftist favorite, that the tax bill “cuts taxes for millionaires while raising taxes for the middle class”. This is simply not so and is more of the class warfare tactic of Democrats.
Using data from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation:
Middle income Americans who make between $40,000 and $70,000 would see tax rate reductions of 7.1 percent. People with incomes between $20,000 and $30,000 would see tax rate reductions of 10.4 percent. Millionaires, on the other hand, would typically see tax rate reductions of 5.3 percent.
Most married couples with children earning less than $60,000 a year would probably have no tax liability because the child tax credit is increased to $2,000 per child.
One of the reasons critics cite as a reason taxes will increase for middle class taxpayers is that many of the tax cuts are set to expire in 2025 in order to comply with the Senate Byrd Rule. That is unlikely to actually occur because if Republicans control either House in 2025, the reduced rates will likely be extended. With Democrats in control, bet on taxes going up.
Millions of people will not lose their health insurance because of the tax bill. The tax bill eliminates the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. For whatever reasons, many people who do not desire the mandated insurance will voluntarily drop it. The tax bill does not exclude anybody nor does it eliminate subsidies.
Neither will anyone lose Social Security or Medicare. Nothing in the bill impacts entitlements or the social safety net. Those who claim this are erroneously assuming that when the government cuts tax rates it will spend less. That is not true as previously discussed regarding increased revenues with decreased taxes.
Finally, the bill provides a special “529 account” to pay for kindergarten through high school and keeps the student loan interest deduction.
The mere expectation of President Trump’s tax reform bill has had a very positive impact on the economy. As an example, a recent report notes that year-end bonuses for average workers are up indicating that the increased wealth is being shared throughout the economy. President Trump is producing results.
Going back to President Johnson’s quote, obviously many do not like taxation. Fine. Got it. Before joining the debate, let’s at least try to understand the subject matter.
The Cold Civil War
Posted December 11, 2017, 9:38 am
America is in the middle of a cold civil war.
It is a civil war because the strident and polarized state of our nation has been in steady crescendo for some time. The left and the right have never been as far apart as they are today. The two sides are in a continuing state of resentful antagonism. Ever since the election of President Trump, the left has been suffering increasingly more convulsive Trump derangement syndrome. They are now approaching a point where they are so completely opposed to basic American values, read as anything that President Trump says or does, that, in their view, there can only be unity when the left vanquishes the right or the right vanquishes the left.
These are the binary conclusions of civil war. Both sides have convinced their followers that the other represents an existential threat to the existence of the nation.
The really good news is that Trump supporters are winning the cold civil war and they are winning big. I know this for two reasons. The first is based on observable facts and the other is that the more we are winning, the further unhinged liberal commentators become.
Allow me to begin with the most obvious proof, at least to rational people: the observable facts.
Look around at where our nation and its people are under President Trump as opposed to where we were under the Obama socialist oppression.
Consumer confidence is at a 17 year high, up 19 percent since President Trump’s election. This is a leading indicator suggesting that the economy will continue to improve.
The nation’s economic growth is over 3.3 percent. The nation’s economy is doing very well. Unemployment is down and the number of jobs available are up. Exactly what President Trump promised. During the Obama years, economic growth never reached 3 percent.
Business is no longer a targeted enemy of the government. Many oppressive regulations have been eliminated and job creating policies initiated. More will follow.
A new tax bill is very nearly complete, one that will provide economic relief to a broad range of taxpayers and further encourage job creation and economic growth.
The stock markets are at record highs, which means that a huge amount of wealth has been created for additional investment in the economy as well as individual savings and retirement accounts. The fact that our citizens are investing means that they think the economy will continue to grow under President Trump’s policies.
President Trump has reduced illegal immigration and is implementing plans for its elimination. He will continue to fight the traitorous and lawbreaking sanctuary cities that provide safe harbor to the criminals from other nations.
The President has been strengthening our judiciary. The appointment of Justice Gorsuch was a tremendous first step. A number of constitutionalist Federal judges have been appointed and others await appointment. Recent absolutely inexplicable and politically based decisions from liberal Federal judges clearly indicate the critical need for Federal Judges who understand the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Our military is becoming strong again after its decimation under Obama. We are again proudly projecting American power.
America is strengthening its alliances overseas after years of destruction under Obama-Clinton mismanagement. We are realigning with real friends and allies. Our friends respect us and, once again, our enemies fear us, as it should be.
In this country, it is shameful to watch the left melt down in so many ways. Their decades of hypocrisy, immorality and elitism is being shown for the house of cards it is. The illusions of narcissistic glitter so carefully constructed by Hollywood, the myth of being a “party of the people”, the societal cost of racial and class politics, and the shameless partisanship of the media are all crumbling when confronted by the hardnosed reality of truth. Finally, the Clinton crime family is about to face its day of reckoning as revelations concerning Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, multi-million dollar bribes and kickbacks all come to the fore.
As a second proof of how greatly we are winning, I offer as evidence the recent completely off the rails, unhinged, fact-free liberal rant Op-Ed of one Richard Cohen, an editorial writer for the far left Washington Post. Mr. Cohen is known for making some pretty outlandish statements and distasteful comparisons but he has outdone himself in a recent screed titled, “President Trump has ushered in America’s Darkest Hour”.
Mr. Cohen roams pointlessly around, first trying to measure President Trump by a 1962 Arthur Schlesinger article then saying that the President has not held the stage at a critical moment in history even though his presidency is not yet a year old. He then suggests that we must compare the Trump presidency to a movie about Churchill and then wanders off into a denunciation of Roy Moore. His conclusion appears to be that somehow moral principal has been replaced by political cowardice. Aside from the fact-free assertions, it is astounding that he can arrive at his conclusion assuming that either the left or the previous administration somehow operated on moral principles. These are facts definitely not in evidence. He also fails to mention what he thinks is “political cowardice”.
The left is completely ideologically driven with no constructive plan to offer. The more they are challenged and proven wrong, the more they howl at the moon. As we clearly see, they are slipping further from reality and becoming more unstable. That is the other way I know we are winning.
The cold civil war is likely existential and it will likely end with the elimination of one side – the left. Hopefully, it remains a cold civil war.
The left is crushed by facts, bereft of leadership, demonstrably delusional and increasingly unhinged. The right is winning big and will keep winning.
President Trump is Making America Great Again.
Is it 1984 yet?
Posted November 27, 2017, 9:16 am
It’s all right there in black and white. The headlines. The News stories. School closed. Paintings removed. Government spying on private citizens. No records of wrong doing exist. Poverty and hunger on the increase. Jail for incorrect speech. Suspected dissidents disappear.
Did I just read these in this morning’s paper? No, but I could have. Actually, they are themes from George Orwell’s chilling dystopian novel “1984” that I just re-read for the umpteenth time.
“1984” was written in 1949 and describes a world in which fear and absolute control are used to force individuals to conform to mandatory political orthodoxy. Orwell’s dystopia is a world in which individuals have absolutely no control over their own lives. They live in fear and misery, only to serve the State. In Orwell’s country of Oceania, there is absolute government control, no individual human spirit, constant and ubiquitous hunger and misery and those who do not comply are “vaporized”.
Orwell’s book was a warning about totalitarianism. It is relevant today because we are watching our freedom being eroded on a steady basis.
The defining features of the totalitarianism that Orwell’s dystopia highlighted, and that are evident today, are ubiquitous and pervasive propaganda, often masquerading as news, designed to destroy people’s understanding of reality and societal group think focused on eliminating critical and independent thinking at all levels of society.
Orwell’s book is important because “1984” is a portent of where we are heading in our country. An out of control mainstream media, subservient to the political left, dumbed down education destroying critical thought and a seemingly impenetrable political elite.
In “1984”, the state consisted of three components, the “Inner Party”, the true ruling class, which was less than 2% of the population, the “Outer Party”, educated workers, which was 18% – 19% of the population, and the Proles (proletariat) or working class. This bears an eerie resemblance to the political structure of our country today. We have a small, elite group that seems to control virtually everything with impunity, is seemingly above the law and is beyond the scrutiny of the public. The “Outer Party” is the bureaucracy that surrounds the elite, privileged and powerful. The unelected administrators and bureaucrats. The Proles are what the Left regards everyone else to be. Useful cogs. Human units. Undifferentiated workers intended to serve a function as defined and assigned by the state.
In “1984”, Orwell introduced some ideas and terms that are part of our vocabulary today such as “newspeak”, “double think” and “thought police”.
Newspeak is easily identifiable in today’s world as the distorted reality present as a result of bending language and torturing the meaning of words. Newspeak stripped down the English language to limit its capacity to be used for free thought, to restrict rather than broaden ideas. When words are removed from the language, not only do the words disappear but their concepts disappear also. In Orwell’s nation of Oceania, for example, when “freedom” was removed from the language, the whole idea of freedom could not exist. Good is assumed to be the opposite of bad. In newspeak, then, bad is unnecessary. Newspeak expresses degrees of goodness with prefixes such as ungood (bad) or plusgood (very good). This narrows thought and therefore expression. Look at what we do with today’s expressions such as OMG, ASAP, RU, DINK, FYI, LMAO, IMO, TMI and so on. Consider the medium of texting itself as a limiter of expression and therefore thought. Dumbed down, narrowed communication.
Doublethink is pervasive. With doublethink, one can accept two mutually contradictory beliefs at the same time as correct. That is the way people are conditioned to ignore reality and embrace some clearly false narrative. Orwell used such expressions as “war is peace”, “freedom is slavery” and “ignorance is strength” as official slogans of The Party. In “1984”, the Ministry of Peace is charged with waging war and the Ministry of Love is charged with political torture. In today’s world, Women’s Health, for example, is all about murder of the unborn and the Department of Defense wages our wars. The ministry of Truth, in “1984” is charged with changing history books to fit party ideology. War is Peace is convenient because having a common enemy binds people together. Freedom is slavery speaks to collectivism. Go with the crowd! Trade freedom for security! Ignorance is strength occurs when people can no longer think for themselves. This is what happens when our schools stop teaching critical thought and teach ideology. Doublespeak is the foundation of authoritarianism.
Thought police are the forces of political correctness that use everything from shaming to lying to thuggery to lawsuits to force compliance with the newspeak and double think of their choosing. Orwell could not imagine today’s NSA’s ability to intercept virtually every phone call, e-mail, text and other communication to track citizens. His “telescreens” pale by comparison. We have “security” cameras on doors, stores, intersections, roads, cars, stadiums and everywhere you can imagine, many capable of facial recognition and individual tracking. Retailers and on line sellers know what you buy, what you look at and more or less what you think. Police departments use intelligent systems to “predict” criminal intent. This is thought-policing Orwell could not even imagine.
As we are currently witnessing on our college campuses, in our media and around our nation, the goal of political correctness is to narrow the range of thought, to channel it completely into what its adherents regard as “acceptable modes”. They are not seeking discourse or discussion. They are seeking to totally silence those with whom they do not agree. As in “1984”, the current agents of Big Brother seek to have those with opposing views silenced, arrested or fined. Can Big Brother’s “vaporizing” be far behind?
In case you have not guessed by now, the current agent of Big Brother is the Progressive Liberalism of the New World Order of George Soros, Obama, Pelosi, Sanders, Warren, Clinton and their fellow travelers. Think carefully when you vote.
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls past”. George Orwell – “1984”
Beware of a referendum question that glitters – it only appears gold
Posted October 22, 2017, 11:58 am
Citizens beware! All that glitters may not be gold.
On the ballot Nov. 7 is a referendum, something to which most people pay very little attention, but which can profoundly affect their lives and well-being.
The referendum asks: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing the local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within the local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is existing law?”
Wow, you may say, who wouldn’t want their property tax to disappear? Pennsylvanians have argued for decades that property taxes present an unfair burden to senior citizens and low-income property owners. Why, many ask, should I effectively rent my house from the government?
Lowering or eliminating property taxes is a cause that politicians can, and do, jump on with glee. It’s motherhood, apple pie and all that. It’s always popular with voters.
If the proposed amendment is approved, enabling legislation would have to be put forward in order to implement it. Implementing legislation provides the mechanism for local government, school districts and county government to replace the revenue lost by not collecting real estate taxes.
In 1997, after Resolution 1 was approved, which allowed local governments to reduce property taxes on primary residences by up to 50 percent, the Legislature passed Act 50, which included the implementing mechanisms for Resolution 1. This legislation provided a method for school districts to make up lost revenue from enacting Resolution 1’s homestead exemption. School districts, but not local governments or counties, were allowed to tax earned income 1.5 percent or less in exchange for reducing property tax if the voters approved the income tax in a referendum. If the current proposed amendment is passed, similar implementing legislation would have to be passed.
So, what are we really being asked to approve or disapprove? We are being asked to allow the legislature to pass legislation that would allow local municipalities, school districts and county governments to exclude up to 100 percent of the value of primary residences from property taxes. We are being asked to allow them to do that with absolutely no mention of how those revenues will be replaced or how expenditures will be reduced to offset the loss in revenue.
On the surface, the proposition may seem attractive, but let’s look under the covers.
The first, and most obvious, question is who benefits from this? To benefit, you have to own a primary residence and pay property taxes. The more taxes you pay, the more you conceivably will benefit. Renters, for example, will not benefit because they pay no property taxes and the owners of apartments do not receive the tax exclusion, so they have no benefit to pass through even if they are so inclined. Areas with low property values would benefit much less than areas with high property values. All of this will, of course, generate discussion about inequality of benefits between classes of people and areas.
The next question is how the revenue lost from property taxes will be replaced in municipal, school district or county budgets. Municipalities typically generate about a quarter of their revenue from property taxes. For school districts, property taxes are a major source of revenue. Probably the only viable sources of revenue available to local government and school districts are some types of personal income or per capita taxes. This could be substantial, possibly in the area of 3 percent to 5 percent of income. Not only that, but it would also apply to everyone, regardless of whether they benefitted from the property tax exclusion. That will not be an easy sell.
Other types of taxes have been proposed, but each comes with problems. The basic problem, and economic rule of thumb, with any tax is that if you tax something, you get less of it. Increasing sales taxes may cause people to spend less. Increasing income taxes may cause people to work less or work elsewhere. Increasing property taxes is less likely to cause people to sell property, up to some point. Researchers for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that taxes on real estate created the least drag on the gross domestic product per dollar raised of all taxes.
The basic problem with this proposal is the same problem that plagues the current state budget – the spending is in place before the discussion of how to fund it. The voters would be asked to approve eliminating a funding source before any discussion about how it will be replaced. If recent experience with the state budget has taught us anything, it is that our legislators are very poor at finding ways to generate income.
Secondly, as with the budget, the process should start with greatly reducing the spending side of the equation. Once spending has been reduced, then, and only then, talk about how much real estate taxes might be reduced in a revenue neutral environment.
What this proposal really is, unfortunately, is a backdoor attempt to resurrect Senate Bill 76, that deservedly failed last year. That proposal would have eliminated property tax entirely, replacing it with statewide income and sales tax increases, thereby giving Harrisburg complete control over vast sums of money and over our education spending programs, ultimately damaging our economy.
It is a shame that this is being snuck through in what will be a very low-turnout election, with probably 20 percent of the commonwealth’s voters determining a major policy change mostly without understanding what they are voting for.
This poorly thought-out referendum deserves a definite no vote, no matter how much it glitters. It is definitely not gold.
Cost of the Proposed RAISE Act
Posted October 8, 2017, 11:58 am
In Part One of my discussion of immigration, I wrote about the cost of illegal immigration. I will now expand the discussion to immigration in general and discuss the RAISE Act, one of two current major legislative proposals to control immigration and reduce the cost to American taxpayers.
Prior to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, between 1924 and 1965, this nation admitted fewer than 200,000 immigrants a year. The 1965 act removed many of the barriers to immigration, and the number of those coming to this country skyrocketed. Since 1990, with few exceptions, roughly a million people a year have immigrated to the United States. Mexico, China and India, in that order, are the leading countries of origin in recent years.
As noted in Part 1 of this series, this nation has every right, and even obligation, to limit immigrants to those who contribute to the betterment of America. Currently there are 12.8 million low-skill immigrants (high school degree or less) in America, and approximately 400,000 more enter each year. These immigrants result in a net fiscal loss to our government of $150 billion annually. This is the amount of benefits paid minus total taxes received.
This is the cost each and every year, and it is increasing. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that over a 75-year projection, the net cost of the current low skilled immigrants and their immediate descendants will be $1.9 trillion.
The proposed RAISE Act is an attempt to control and even reduce the fiscal cost resulting from low-skilled immigrants in a number of ways. The RAISE Act will eliminate chain migration, which is allowing the extended family of an immigrant to follow; cut the annual number of green cards in half; eliminate the diversity visa lottery; and eliminate the low-skilled worker allotment. It will also place a maximum, or cap, on the future flow of refugees and asylum seekers.
Eliminating the chain migration provision is a very important control measure. Currently, if an immigrant enters the country and his or her spouse becomes a citizen, they can petition the INS to allow their parents, adult children, siblings and in-laws to enter the country. The group they petition to allow in can then bring their minor children. Once they become citizens, the cycle starts over with more in-laws and parents and siblings. One immigrant can literally result in dozens of entrants.
The RAISE Act would allow each immigrant to bring only nuclear family.
The RAISE Act promises to cut legal immigration in half and replace ineffective immigration criteria that have allowed mass Third World immigration with a much more rational points system that evaluates the ability of a potential immigrant to contribute to the American economy and to assimilate in our English speaking nation.
The previously cited cost of low-skilled immigrants of $1.9 trillion over a 75-year period would be cut by at least $1 trillion by the RAISE Act, according to some estimates. Additional savings would be achieved by limiting illegal immigration.
The RAISE Act, of course, has its opponents. Some argue that it will reduce the GDP. Others argue that there will not be enough low skilled workers to fill available low-skilled jobs. Still others argue that low-skilled immigrants make it more possible for American workers to climb the economic ladder. And finally, some argue that reducing the number of immigrants will hurt the high-tech industry.
Reducing a large number of low- skill workers has questionable impact on GDP. Assuming they are employed, and it is a big assumption, they do contribute to the GDP. The contribution, however, is numerically small and is consumed almost entirely (98 percent) by the immigrant, so virtually none is net-positive contribution to the fiscal budget. In fact, most, even if employed, because of the redistributive nature of our tax system, are net negative to the fiscal budget. They are a part of the GDP, but a very small slice of the pie. Reducing low-skilled workers will not adversely impact our nation’s wealth.
As far as there not being enough low-skilled workers to fill available jobs, there are Americans in the low skilled category. It is entirely possible that making work a requirement for financial support would make some of these available, but more to the point, migrant work cards could replace some immigrant visas. A migrant is a person who is in this country temporarily for work and then leaves. They are distinctly not entitled to bring families and receive benefits.
It is entirely possible that low-end wage scales may undergo some adjustment if large numbers of immigrant low-skilled workers are not available. That might have the effect of drawing more U.S. citizens back into the labor pool. Paying a bit more for some services may be offset by lower taxes. What the net result would be is very speculative at this point.
As far as the impact of fewer visas on the tech industry, that has been an ongoing discussion for many years. No one is talking about changing the H-1B visa program, which has been a big source of tech personnel for decades. If fewer low-skilled immigrant visas are granted and the focus is shifted to high-skilled immigrants, this certainly would not hurt the high-tech industry and may well help it.
The RAISE Act, the revised version of which was introduced in August, being designated as Senate Bill 1720, has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. No action on the bill is anticipated this year.
NFL bites the hand that feeds it
Posted October 1, 2017, 11:10 am
Left-wing ideologues seem to have an almost infinite capacity for doing really foolish things. The latest example of self-inflicted embarrassment occurred last weekend and involved the hyper-publicized disrespecting of our flag and national anthem by the overpaid thugs of the National Football League.
According to the leftist storyline, they were upset President Trump called them out on their prior disrespect and wanted to “show their solidarity.”
Did they ever! Solidly dumb. The president played them like a violin.
According to a recent Scarborough Research Study, NFL fans are among the most patriotic and the strongest supporters of the president of any fan group in sports. Trump used one of the left’s favorite tactics, ridicule, to goad them into exactly the reaction he knew would incense his NFL support base, and it worked like a charm.
The National Football League is a multi-billion dollar business. It is an entertainment business that employs about 1,700 very large and very strong people to engage in something resembling gladiatorial combat. Fans pay $100 or more for tickets to be entertained by the spectacle.
Football is entertainment – or at least it is supposed to be.
It is not supposed to be a platform for political antics. No one really cares what the average football player thinks about politics. They want to see blocking and tackling and running and passing. Fans, by paying for tickets to an entertainment event, have every right to expect to be entertained.
Last year, a very mediocre quarterback named Colin Kaepernick chose to “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he claimed to be the “oppression of black people and people of color.” That didn’t go over well, and Kaepernick is now a spectator.
Since Kaepernick’s shameful performance, similar actions have increased until they reached a crescendo this past weekend. Let’s look at what is truly going on when these leftists “protest” the flag and the anthem.
In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem that was later set to music and became America’s national anthem. The poem was originally titled “In Defense of Fort McHenry,” and pictured the British bombardment of the fort during the War of 1812. The poem, and then song, commemorated one of America’s darkest moments. It describes America as a beacon of enduring hope, a light of freedom, that finds a way to endure. The song, which has been played at sporting events since at least 1918, and which officially became the national anthem in 1931, serves as a continuing reminder that this great nation has overcome threats and danger and continues to be a light of freedom in the world. It is a reminder that many of our citizens have fought and died for the freedom that allows us to do things like attend sporting events and enjoy our liberty, as imperfect as some may think it to be. There is still none better on this earth. It is out of respect for those who have given us our freedom that we stand when the anthem is played. Is this something that truly deserves to be disrespected?
The American flag is a symbol of our freedom and liberty. It is a symbol that Americans have rallied behind in times of war and travail.
It is a symbol that we have proudly followed at events around the world.
Who has not swelled with pride when our flag is hoisted at the Olympics, for example, to the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner?”
Unfortunately there are those who choose to desecrate and disrespect our flag. It has been publicly burned and torn, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such actions are protected by the First Amendment as “symbolic speech.” As distasteful and disrespectful as such actions are, they are constitutionally protected acts of free speech, and to legally ban such acts would be to remove one of the freedoms from the land that the flag represents. This does not mean that the flag deserves any less respect than the national anthem and we stand when the flag passes for exactly the same reason, out of respect for those who have given us our freedom.
NFL players are very highly paid employees of their teams. They are contracted to do one thing – play football. Last weekend, a large number – some report 200 – of these overpaid prima donnas, decided to disrespect their nation’s flag and their nation by kneeling, sitting or various other antics during the national anthem. Some, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, didn’t even have the courage to publically commit their disrespect and, instead, hid in the tunnel.
One man had the courage to come forward and show respect. No one could miss Alejandro Villanueva as he stood, helmet under his arm and hand on his heart. You see, Army Major Villanueva fought for his country and understands commitment and courage. I don’t think any of us really believe the lame walk back of his actions, pretty obviously prompted by team management. No, he was standing too proudly, too resolutely. His focus says it all.
While we are entitled to speak freely, we are not entitled to do so in a particular venue. While speech is protected, access to a particular forum is not, so if the NFL or the teams wanted to stop the disrespect, they certainly would be within their rights. Looking at TV viewership and empty seats, the disrespect is obviously not going over well with fans, largely conservative and Trump supporters.
Trump won a decisive victory, and the left still hasn’t figured out what happened. The owners and the media will, eventually. Football won’t disappear but it will be diminished.
As Daniel Sobieski wrote, “Those who would take a knee to protest the American flag have likely never been handed a folded one. NFL players who want to take a knee should talk to wounded warriors who no longer can.”
The cost the american public incurs due to immigration
Posted September 24, 2017, 10:25 am
Want to start an emotional discussion without mentioning Pitt, Penn State or the Steelers? Bring up the subject of immigration.
Everyone seems to have an opinion whether it is good or bad, and how it should be administered. To some, immigrants are vital to our country, and to others they are the root of all our problems. In a series of columns, I will examine one facet of immigration: what it costs this nation and how those costs might be reduced.
On the plus side, many immigrants contribute in very positive ways to our economy. However, a significant number of immigrants cost billions each year in taxes, drain public resources, frequently present safety and security risks, and are a rapidly growing and all too often non-assimilated demographic.
The very real problem is to mitigate the negative and accentuate the positive.
Every year, our Congress struggles to produce a balanced budget. Rancorous discussion ensues regarding how much money gets spent on which items and from where the money will come. One topic that receives scant attention is the incredible amount of money Congress allocates for things it shouldn’t be spending money on in the first place.
First, the government should not be spending taxpayer dollars on illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigrants reside in this country in violation of federal law. Estimates vary, but the number of illegal immigrants almost certainly exceeds 11 million. A 2013 report from the Heritage Foundation estimated that the net cost to the United States is approximately $54.5 billion a year.
They arrive in various ways, whether by crossing our southern border or overstaying their visas. Some are actually “imported” by our government for “policy” reasons. But they arrive in large numbers every year, or at least they did under the previous administration.
Illegal immigrants tend to be low-skilled and have low education levels. The percentage of low- skilled illegal immigrants is estimated to be 40 percent. Despite the fact that they are legally prohibited from receiving state or federal aid, certain states and cities make them eligible for many of the over 80 means
tested welfare benefits that our government provides. These benefits include cash, food, housing, medical and other services.
In many areas of the country, illegal immigrants flood public schools at an average cost of $12,300 per pupil. That number can be significantly higher in many areas. They also consume population- based services such as police, fire, highways and parks. In many areas, they also crowd our jails. Twenty
two percent of the federal prison population consists of immigrants, and 14 percent, or 26,000 prisoners, are illegal immigrants. That is just federal inmates.
Immigration to our great nation is a privilege, not a right. If there is a right involved in immigration, it is our right, as a sovereign nation, to control who enters our country. It is our right to allow in only those who will make a positive contribution and who will assimilate.
We have absolutely no obligation to admit anyone, least of all those who come here to consume our resources, become burdens upon our society, fail to assimilate and to cause disruption. We certainly have no obligation to automatically call the progeny of anyone who happens to be here in any non-citizen status a “citizen.”
We also certainly have no obligation to automatically allow the greatly-extended families of anyone who comes here to come also. We do have every right, and indeed obligation, to expel anyone who enters this country illegally. We have the same right and obligation to expel anyone who may be here legally but who commits a serious crime.
We are constantly told we are a nation of immigrants. The real immigrants to this nation came here legally. They demonstrated that they had family or friends to support them, that they had enough money to support themselves until they found employment, that they had the skills to be employed. They went through the naturalization process. The real immigrants contributed to this nation by hard work. They learned our ways and our language and they assimilated. They became Americans. This is the “nation of immigrants.”
Real immigrants come here legally with the dream of becoming Americans. They contribute to society. They don’t come here to form unassimilated colonies and send America’s wealth elsewhere. They are not the unskilled and net negative contributors to our federal budget. They come with a dream, come with skills, work hard, assimilate, become citizens and realize their dreams.
The Pittsburgh area is a great example of how a large, legal immigrant population makes for a stronger and better country.
California and much of the Southwest are examples of largely uncontrolled illegal immigration.
President Trump has already reduced illegal immigration by more than half, and much more needs to be done. Prohibiting the use of state and federal funds to pay for means-tested programs delivered to illegal immigrants would be a great start. When the “freebies” are no longer available, many of the illegals will most likely leave of their own accord, since they are not here for any other reason. Many others will simply not come.
Here’s a suggestion: As part of the immigration process, include a provision that bans the right to vote for 15 years. Then let’s see how many politicians, particularly on the left, are still interested in promoting mass immigration of any sort.
In the weeks ahead, I will deal with several proposals to limit immigration and control its cost to our economy.
It’s not about statutes – it’s about freedom
Posted September 4, 2017, 10:25 am
I recently wrote an opinion piece on free speech in which I concluded that when free speech is suppressed and one group dictates what is “true,” the result is totalitarianism. We are currently watching that nightmare unfold in our nation.
Americans believe in free speech. A recent Rasmussen poll reported that, “Americans agree freedom of speech is under assault, but strongly insist that they are prepared to defend that freedom even at the cost of their lives if necessary.” Those are strong words.
The poll reported that 85 percent of American adults think giving people the right to free speech is more important than making sure no one is offended by what they say. Only 8 percent think it’s more important to make sure no one is offended.
Why is it that the mainstream media and many of our legislators and jurists seem so obsessed with the 8 percent?
With overwhelming support for free speech, just 28 percent of those polled believe they have true freedom of speech today. This is hardly surprising and it is a ringing indictment of the environment in which we live.
Free speech is being suppressed in many ways and I would like to discuss two of them, the first supporting the second: the control of information and the destruction of objects.
Media giants control information. That control is being concentrated more and more each time another merger takes place, eliminating competition and placing control in fewer hands. Advancing technology allows broader and more precise filtering, limiting access to only selected information. Information is either not reported, or falsely reported with impunity, and false “realities” are constructed.
When all else fails, media giants simply “disconnect” sites or people with whom they disagree, as Google recently did with one of its own employees. We saw this repeatedly during the presidential campaign. Watch and see what the media does not report about the recent Antifa attacks in Berkeley, Calif. When general discourse is manipulated, it is no longer free. It becomes one-sided and we move closer to totalitarian control.
This brings us to the current debate over Confederate statues. Objects represent a form of speech, and destroying objects, in this case statues, because of what someone perceives they represent, is a form of denial of free speech. It is no different than book burning. Is the war on statues a proxy war by the left? If people think the statues of Confederate heroes are being removed because they are symbols of racism or slavery, I would suggest they are probably mistaken.
As a point of history, in a letter by Robert E. Lee to his wife, quoted by Jeffrey Folks, Lee called slavery “a moral and political evil.” Lee emancipated slaves, built schools for them and facilitated passage to Liberia. Lee was offered command of both the Northern and Southern armies and chose to defend state’s rights, his home and his home state, not slavery as an institution. Fewer than 20 percent of southerners owned slaves in 1860, and defending slavery was not a primary motivation for the Civil War for most in the South.
Why the war on statues and the war on southern history and identity? It’s all political. It’s all about 2018 and 2020. The idea is to create a false narrative that everything about the South and southerners is evil. Why? The South voted for President Trump, so the Americans who voted for Trump are evil, Trump is evil, both must be removed. The statues are the symbolic connection, the representation of evil.
Eradication of monuments won’t stop with Confederate generals because the generals are not important by themselves. There are two statues in Washington that are surely on the “must topple” list because George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slaveholders and must be expunged from history. While they are at it, other slave-holding founders and presidents include Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk and Zachary Taylor. Woodrow Wilson refused to suppress Ku Klux Klan activity. Franklin Roosevelt ordered segregation in the military. Lyndon Johnson opposed civil rights legislation most of his career. Bill Clinton came from a slaveholding family.
While they are tearing down statues, don’t forget to tear down any statue of the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd. Byrd was the exalted cyclops of the Klan.
My point is there is no logical stopping point because the process itself is illogical. This is what suppression of freedom of speech looks like in action. Why is this happening when the overwhelming majority of Americans support free speech? What happens when the leftists show up at Washington & Jefferson College? Are we silent because we are being brainwashed and conditioned by the media’s onslaught?
It is time the 85 percent of us speak out, my friends. It is time to stop this assault on our freedom by the leftist elite.
I’ll conclude with a passage from George Orwell’s “1984”: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
Real news Americans should focus on is economy
Posted August 20, 2017, 4:18 am
TRUMP AND HIS ADMINISTRATION HAVE MADE A GREAT START IN ONLY SEVEN MONTHS. THIS ISN’T THE GLITZY STUFF THAT SELLS NEWSPAPERS, AND GOODNESS KNOWS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA HAS NEITHER REPORTED IT NOR GIVEN HIM ANY CREDIT FOR IT. BUT IT IS THE WORK OF A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT THAT IS FELT BY WORKING AMERICANS – LARGELY THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR THE PRESIDENT.
The media in the past week or so has been full of overwrought discussions, many focusing on what is wrong with America and, particularly, the leaders of this nation. These discussions have been full of emotion, conjecture and speculation, and very short on provable facts, as distinguished from what the media is calling “fact.”
This discourse is entirely negative and, while it might be fun to jump in and provide some adult perspective, I will instead focus on the discussion of what is real, provable and positive in our nation and what is affecting Washington County in a positive way.
What is very positive is what is going on with our economy. When President Trump took office, he was handed a stagnant economy – a historically stagnant economy, in fact. The eight years of economic suppression under President Obama were the first time in American history that not one year saw economic growth of 3 percent or more. Average economic growth under Obama was, in fact, an anemic 2.1 percent, the fourth-lowest in history for any president. Obama’s war on business featured massive federal regulation that cost the economy more than $100 billion a year.
Trump has begun a focused program to end the massive federal regulations on American business and individuals, along with tax reform. There are already positive results.
Since Trump took office, more than 1 million private sector jobs have been created. It is important to note that these are in the private sector, because private-sector jobs help to create wealth. Under Obama, most new jobs were in the public sector, which do not create wealth, but drain money from the economy. Many Americans who had given up looking for work have now rejoined the work force, unemployment is at a 16-year low, consumer confidence is at a 16-year high and the stock market is setting new record highs.
As Trump promised, “Made in America” is a growing reality, with 16,000 new manufacturing sector jobs added in July alone, following the 9,000 in June.
Trump has already eliminated many onerous regulations on American business. He has approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which will create jobs and add to America’s energy independence. He is in the process of reviewing and renegotiating unfavorable trade agreements from the previous administration, an action likely to bring jobs back to America.
Trump recently announced Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn and Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda would open plants in the United States. The Toyota-Mazda assembly plant will involve $1.6 billion in investment and create 4,000 manufacturing jobs. The Foxconn plant will involve an investment of nearly $10 billion.
The policies and performance of Trump have resulted in high levels of optimism in both large and small businesses. The Index of Small Business Optimism is at or near its highest level since 2004, under President George W. Bush. Small-business owners are very positive about the president’s promise, and actual delivery, on deregulation, as well as expectations of tax reform and infrastructure spending. While small-business hiring remains strong, it is weakening as Congress fails to deliver on tax and health care reform. Current health care regulations are suffocating small business and relief is required quickly.
For major job creators, the Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Index increased 19.1 points to 93.3, the biggest quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2009. This is the first time in seven quarters that the index has been above its long-term average of 79.8. An index above 50 indicates expectation of economic expansion.
Major job creators are particularly interested in the president’s plans to reduce corporate taxes, invest in infrastructure and reduce onerous regulations. Tax reform was the single biggest issue with corporate executives. The executives generally see the economy as strengthening and anticipate an increase in capital spending.
The Federal Open Market Committee forecasts the gross domestic product to rise to 2.2 percent in 2017 and drop to 2.1 percent in 2018. Unemployment should drop to 4.3 percent in 2017 and 4.2 percent in 2018. Many jobs, however, will still be less than full-time, and in lower-paying service industries, meaning there is still room for significant growth.
Inflation is forecast to be 1.6 percent in 2017, and 2 percent in 2018 and beyond. Manufacturing is forecast to grow at a rate faster than the economy as a whole, reaching 3 percent in 2017. This is very positive.
Interest rates, including rates on mortgages and credit cards are forecast to increase. Deposit rates are expected to increase slightly. Energy prices, critical to this region, are forecast to improve slightly in 2017 and 2018 and then begin to increase more rapidly by 2020.
For the people of Washington County, these numbers mean a brighter future. Increasing gross domestic product means new businesses are starting, and existing businesses are growing. This means more jobs and higher wages. Stable inflation rates mean that the purchasing power of wages remains stable. When manufacturing grows, it means that good, higher-paying jobs are being created. Increasing energy prices, of particular interest in this area, mean that the many companies headquartered and operating in the county will again be hiring people for high-paying jobs in the energy sector. The stock market is up nearly 20 percent, and that certainly helps fund pension plans and 401(k)s for a lot of workers.
Trump and his administration have made a great start in only seven months. This isn’t the glitzy stuff that sells newspapers, and goodness knows the mainstream media has neither reported it nor given him any credit for it. But it is the work of a responsible government that is felt by working Americans – largely the people who voted for the president.
The real irony is that if the obstructionists would just get out of the way, many of them would also benefit, whether they want to admit it or not.
Ball is a Peters Township councilman, vice chairman of Washington County Republican Party and the chairman of Peters Township Republican Committee.
A leap toward continuing failure – New democratic agenda
Posted August 11, 2017, 8:00 am
Here’s a newsflash. I’d like to say you heard it here first but you probably didn’t. The Democrats have a new agenda! There is certainly no doubt that they need a new agenda. The one they have been using has been a failure of epic proportions.
In eight years of misrule under Obama, the Democratic party suffered the worst elected office losses in history. They lost 1,042 state and federal posts plus four more in recent runoff elections. Democratic Senate seats fell from 55 to 46, House seats fell from 256 to 194. Governorships declined from 28 to 16. A total of 958 state legislative seats were also lost. Obama said he could have won a third term if he were allowed to run again. Good thing for his party he was ineligible because there may have been no Democrats left in elective office at the end of that term.
The morning coffee hadn’t even been poured on November 9 before the Democrats were beginning the blame list for Clinton’s stunning, but predictable, defeat. It was, depending on the time, and whom you asked, Russian hackers, fake news, a Putin conspiracy, misogyny, a rigged election, or any one of a dozen other conspiracy theories. The root cause, however, is that the Democrats produced nothing for the majority of the American people. The economy was stalled, jobs were scarce, businesses were over-regulated, taxes were high and climbing, the vaunted Obamacare had failed to deliver on most of its promises, our military had been gutted, illegal immigrants were flooding the nation, crime was increasing in the cities; basically not much was going well. The root cause was cataclysmic policy failure. Liberalism as an operational strategy simply was not working and has not worked – ever.
Eventually, some Democratic strategists came to the realization that the party needed a new strategy. The old progressive liberal strategy certainly hadn’t worked. Over the period of the past several months they allege that they have labored hard and long to develop the miraculous new strategy that will rescue the Democratic party. That strategy was previewed two weeks ago and will be rolled out more fully over the next several weeks. Guess what? So far, it looks exactly like the old strategy – except it is more progressive and more liberal – and even less likely to work. So much for the “learn from your failures concept.
The new strategy is called “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages”. The concept, we are told, is to avoid repeating Clinton’s attempt to offer something for everybody and, in doing so, lack a coherent economic message. The new agenda will be a purely economic message. You will, I am sure, be surprised to know that it will propose increasing taxes on “the rich”, more corporate regulation, higher wages, higher spending, affordable college and paid family leave. Just in case you wondered if they had run out of populist ways to spent really huge piles of money, there is the $3000 a year per child, child allowance. All this, of course, will require larger government, more reporting and more personal intrusion.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these proposals.
The child allowance is described as a “universal child allowance” and is a federal check sent to low income families. The cost of this program is estimated to be $180 billion a year to “provide low and middle income families raising children with a baseline level of stable income”. Since when is it the federal government’s job to provide “stable income” for raising kids? Isn’t this what families do? Doesn’t this suggest the potential for serious abuse as a source of income? Most importantly, when has economic opportunity ever been generated by taking money from a person who is presumably generating money and shifting it to one who is not while passing it through the inefficient filter of the government?
Then there is the ever popular higher minimum wage proposal. The deafness of the Democratic policy wonks is on full display here. City after city that has tried this has found that it does not work. Studies confirm that increasing minimum wages actually lower the effective pay of low wage workers because businesses are forced to reduce hours and reduce personnel to maintain profit margins (not the “huge” profits assumed by liberals but any profit at all). Many cities are rolling back minimum wage increases but this is apparently lost on the Democratic Party.
Family leave, like higher minimum wage, is an increased cost to business that must be offset somewhere, frequently by fewer employees or fewer hours.
Infrastructure spending is a favorite of every administration. The real questions are what infrastructure, where and how much? All too often, the projects chosen are pork barrel favorites of legislators for which the economic return does not justify the expenditure. If we need an example, in California look at the Mag-Lev railroad projects. The list is endless. Billions of dollars spent for projects of marginal value when real projects remain unaddressed. Factor in the wasteful impact of prevailing wage and Davis-Bacon on State and Federal projects and the truly wasteful nature of the term “infrastructure spending” comes into focus.
“Making the rich pay their fair share” is another Democratic favorite. How much is a fair share? According to the IRS, Americans earning over $100,000 paid 80% of all income taxes in 2014. In other words, 16% of people filing returns paid 80% of the taxes. Not only do the highest earners pay most of the taxes but the lowest earners were actually paid about $25,000 each per year in earned income tax credit. How much more is “fair”? Studies show that if incremental taxes are raised, tax receipts actually go down as income is sheltered or redeployed.
“All the political angst and moral melodrama about getting ‘the rich’ to pay ‘their fair share’ is part of a big charade. This is not about economics, it is about politics.” Thomas Sowell
This plan is so lacking in substance that even the Democrats’ captive media cheerleaders yawned and ignored it.
With their new economic agenda it would appear that the Democratic Party has made major strides toward guaranteeing its failure well into the future.
Conservative beliefs – Our foundation and our future
by Dave Ball
July 26, 2017
Thomas Paine famously began his pamphlet series “The American Crisis” with the oft-quoted line, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He said that in 1776, and this nation once again finds itself faced with trying times.
For eight long and painful years, the Obama administration laid waste to the America of our forefathers. The Constitution was disrespected and constantly challenged, the rule of law was disregarded, the idea of a federal republic was scrapped in favor of socialism, our military might was dissipated and our economy was neglected, producing the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.
In November 2016, the American people said “enough” and to the shock of Clinton’s media colluders and delusional pollsters, Donald Trump was elected president.
The “why” was simple. People wanted jobs, they didn’t want America to look like socialist Europe, they wanted a strong military, they didn’t want Clinton. They wanted to “Make America Great Again.”
They wanted Donald Trump.
This obviously sent liberals into deep shock and denial. Instead of responding in a rational manner, the response has been to move radically left and to engage in nothing but often violent obstruction.
The result in our society has been a constant bleating from the media in search of any tiny tidbit with which to denigrate the administration, any reason to obstruct the president’s program.
Why is President Trump’s program causing liberals so much grief? Very simply because he is seeking, in a very short period of time, to first undo the damage of Obama and then to set America on a course to prosperity. What he is trying to do, and will do, is anathema to the liberal mind and they have no way of processing it, so they obstruct rather than think and reason.
In the midst of this, conservatives are frequently, and rightfully, asked just what it is that they believe in, what are conservative values and principles. If more people understood what those beliefs are, we would have less obstruction and more positive results for America. Let’s take a look at conservative beliefs, values and principles.
We begin with the core structural beliefs. The other values and principles depend upon these foundations.
• We believe in government as defined by the Constitution. The Constitution creates three branches of government and gives each separate duties.
• We believe that the duties of the government should be limited and adhere as closely as possible to the 18 duties enumerated in Article 1, Section 8; that is, the federal government has no business invading citizen’s lives in areas in which it has no constitutional mandate. Examples include education, health care, and the invasion of personal-information privacy.
• We believe that the three branches of government should carry out their duties as required by the Constitution; that is, the legislative branch should make laws, the executive branch should carry out laws and the judicial branch should evaluate laws. Judges should not legislate from the bench and the executive branch should not make law by administrative decree.
• We believe that the First Amendment means what it says with respect to the government not interfering with the free exercise of religion, nor interfering with the exercise of free speech.
• We believe that the Second Amendment means exactly what it says with regard to citizen’s rights to keep and bear arms.
• We believe that the Tenth Amendment means what it says about powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
From these core structural beliefs our functional values and principles are derived. These functional values and principles are the way the core beliefs operate in our society. These include:
• We believe in a strong and free economy. A free and open market economy is the result of minimal government interference. The marketplace determines the allocation of resources and seeks sustainable relationships of supply and demand. An open market economy is free of artificial distortions, which result from government regulation.
• We believe in a strong family system. Government interference in society through social engineering inevitably destroys the nuclear family. Strong families create stable and productive citizens and a stable society. Government dependence creates nothing positive, just larger and more expensive government.
• We believe in a strong and effective national defense. The United States must be able to protect its interests around the world. We need not be a global policeman, but we must be able to form secure alliances and stand behind them. We must assure that our nation is safe from aggression of any type.
• It follows from believing in a strong defense that we also believe in a secure nation. We believe in secure borders to protect us from illegal drugs, terrorists, and any other threat to this nation.
• We believe in a strong and reasonable immigration policy, one that assures the protection of American jobs and resources, first and foremost, but also allows qualified persons with sincere desire to assimilate and contribute to legally enter this country.
• We believe in quality education for our children. To achieve this, we believe that the entire education system must be accountable. Education must be fact-based, objective, and free of bias. Government should not be involved in defining curriculum. The educational system should promote moral values, teach the history of the founding of the United States and the truths enshrined in our foundational documents.
This is a short summary of what conservatives believe. There is certainly more but these are the important points. We can define our beliefs. They are grounded in the foundational documents of this nation. They are what America has stood for, for 241 years. They are what built this nation.
The future of America will be built on these beliefs – on conservative beliefs, values and principles.
Trump is producing the results we voted to receive
by Dave Ball
July 10, 2017
President Trump began his quest to “Make America Great Again” on Jan. 20 of this year, close to six months ago. During this brief period of time, what has been accomplished is amazing.
He signed more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Harry Truman and more executive orders than any previous president. Despite the constant emotional and frequently retracted opposition of the liberal press, he is doing what America elected him to do. He is delivering on his campaign promises. That is delightfully refreshing for his supporters and it is scaring liberals and establishment elitists to death.
A poll taken just before his 100th day showed that if the election were held again that day, 96 percent of his supporters would vote for him again.
President Trump is a disrupter. He is disrupting the status quo in Washington, D.C. He is doing things. He is interfering with the established order of power and privilege. That, all by itself, is a very good thing.
Despite enduring possibly the most egregious ad hominem attacks in the history of politics, this president is getting things done.
To date, the president has signed 40 bills into law, mostly without any help from Democrats. The House has passed nearly 170 bills and the Senate is passing bills at a rate not seen for a long time.
The results we voted for – trump getting it done
by Dave Ball
July 3, 2017
President Trump began his quest to “Make America Great Again” on January 20 of this year, a scant five months ago. During that brief period of time, what has been accomplished is amazing. He signed more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Harry Truman and more executive orders than any previous President. Despite the constant emotional and frequently retracted opposition of the liberal press, he is doing what America elected him to do. He is delivering on his campaign promises. That is delightfully refreshing for his supporters and it is scaring liberals and establishment elitists to death.
A poll taken just before his 100th day showed that if the election were held again that day, 96% of his supporters would vote for him again.
President Trump is a disrupter. He is disrupting the status quo in Washington. He is doing things. He is interfering with the established order of power and privilege. That, all by itself, is a very good thing. Despite enduring possibly the most egregious ad hominem attacks in the history of politics, this President is getting things done.
To date, the President has signed 40 bills into law, mostly without any help from Democrats. The House has passed nearly 170 bills and the Senate is passing bills at a rate not seen for a long time.
There is insufficient space in this column to list all of President Trump’s accomplishments but a review of major accomplishments includes:
On Nov. 8, 2016, the Dow Jones Index closed at 18,332. On January 20, 2017 the DJI reached 19,827. It reached 21,115 on March 1 and 21,349 at the end of June. This is the fastest rise in history. The market is up 16.5% since the election. This represents a gain of over $2 trillion in value.
In his first 100 days, the President decreased U.S. National Debt by $100 billion (compared to Obama who INCREASED it by $560 billion) and added 298,000 jobs in his first month alone. The US Manufacturing Index hit a record level early this year. The unemployment rate has moved steadily down since January to its lowest rate in over a decade.
The President signed an executive order scrapping much of the onerous Dodd-Frank bank regulatory law, initiated a broad review of the U.S. tax code and kept three large manufacturing companies and 2,000 jobs in the USA.
President Trump promised he would help veterans and he has. He has signed legislation allowing vets to seek care outside the VA system, he has signed a bill giving preference in grants to federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans and signed major legislation aimed at increasing accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The President has also signed executive orders to investigate incompetence in the VA, protect those who bring problems to light, as well as update the medical records system.
Immigration and Border Security
President Trump implemented immediate change in the Department of Justice with regard to immigration policy and, as a result, illegal border crossings declined 40% in the first month after he took office and are now down over 70%. Current levels of illegal immigration are the lowest they have been in 17 years and are half what they were in Obama’s last three months.
The President has ordered $1.5 billion in border security funding and ordered an end to the “catch and release” program.
To protect against Islamic terrorists, the President issued two orders temporarily banning refugees from certain terrorist nations. Those bans were initially blocked by liberal courts legislating from the bench. Recently, the US Supreme Court sided with the President and reinstated the President’s order.
The President is also battling a number of “sanctuary cities” which harbor illegal aliens in violation of federal law, as well as cracking down on violent illegal alien criminal gangs such as MS-13. In Phoenix, as an example, this has resulted in a dramatic decrease in crime.
The President has also cancelled the Obama DAPA program which would have given amnesty to four million illegal immigrants.
Energy and Environment
President Trump has been very active in removing obstructive environmental regulations that harm the economy without demonstrable positive impacts. Among these actions were to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline projects, repealing a ban on off-shore oil drilling and ordering a review of the Clean Power Plan to give power back to the states.
Of great significance, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a massive income redistribution scheme which would have been financially punishing while offering no benefit to this country.
Also of high significance, the President began rolling back Obama’s odious “Waters of America” overreach regulations which gave the EPA control over virtually every pond and mud puddle in the country.
On his first day in office, President Trump signed orders withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a New World Order agreement that would give foreign firms significant trade advantages over the U.S., circumvent our courts, cost US manufacturing jobs, increase our trade deficit and destabilize global finance.
The President instituted a crackdown on violations of anti-dumping laws and directed investigations into aluminum and steel dumping. He also ordered a review of all free trade policies including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and began renegotiating NAFTA
President Trump expanded military spending by $21 billion and began the process of rebuilding the military that was seriously weakened by Obama.
He renegotiated the price of 90 F-35 fighters to the lowest price in history, saving at least $725 million and signed arms trade deals with Saudi Arabia worth nearly $500 billion.
The President has also taken a much needed tougher stance with North Korea than his predecessor.
One of President Trump’s most outstanding achievements has been the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch has already demonstrated that he is a brilliant and truly conservative jurist.
The President has prepared a list of equally well qualified candidates for federal judgeships and is preparing for the possibility of one or maybe two more Supreme Court appointments.
There are many more accomplishments that could be listed but these are among the more significant. How positive they are will certainly depend on one’s perspective but President Trump is taking action and that is what is scaring the daylights out of the entrenched elites. Their comfortable existences are definitely being threatened and they are not reacting well.
Free speech is freedom in U.S., around the world
by Dave Ball
June 27, 2017
We are currently being inundated by a flood of political rhetoric. It is impossible to turn on a television, pick up a newspaper, look at a website or scan social media without being barraged with often super- heated talk about the state of the nation, those who run it or those who think they should be running it.
Much of what is in the media and being discussed may be questionable and unsubstantiated, at best. Some may be false, at worst. Some may be true, but requiring context. Some is easy to understand and some probably defies comprehension. Whatever the nature of the report or discussion, it will be debated in living rooms, bars, public forums and other gathering spots.
When this is occurring, we are seeing freedom of speech in action. As chaotic as it is, as long as open discussion is taking place, we are seeing democracy at work.
Our right of free speech is an inherent right. The First Amendment enumerates the rights of We, the People. Note carefully, however, that the government does not give us rights. They existed before the government came into being. The First Amendment specifically prohibits the government from making any law interfering with those rights.
Free speech is a key and central component of our way of life, and certainly of our political system. It is through our freedom of speech that free people are able to obtain information, share and discuss it, make decisions based upon it, and communicate those decisions to others.
Free speech has been described as a “marketplace of ideas.” In this marketplace, many ideas may be presented, and rather than having an arbiter, such as the government, determine which is correct, free speech enables the marketplace to determine the truth from amongst varying and diverse opinions.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, concurring in the 1927 Whitney vs. California decision, wrote that “freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth.”
When this “marketplace of ideas” operates openly and freely, it allows those communicating with each other to form some consensus and some type of collective will. The “marketplace of ideas” is part of the democratic process of decision-making that is then reflected at the ballot box.
When free speech works, people use the “marketplace of ideas” to test thoughts and proposals and ideas, one against another, in a competitive environment leading to some type of collective decision. Such decisions are not always correct or the best possible decisions, but they do represent considered opinion and are an important part of self-governance.
While truth may not always be the product of collective will, the process of free speech and the marketplace of ideas leads eventually in the direction of truth as false ideas and non-truths lose in honest discussion.
Because free speech is also such a significant part of our American ethos of individualism, and thus self-expression, it is also an essential part of our way of thinking, imagining and creating, the essential ingredients of what drives this country’s progress. As such, they are strongly protected by our legal system, beginning with our Constitution.
While protection of free speech is not absolute, it is very strong. Freedom of speech does not, for example, protect obscenities, libel, abusive speech, or speech that creates a clear and present danger. Importantly, the law clearly does not give one the right to suppress speech solely because it is repugnant to one’s own beliefs.
When free speech is suppressed, when the marketplace of ideas is shut down, the group or entity suppressing free speech is saying, in effect, that it will be the arbiter of what truth is.
Today, free speech is under attack in many places and from many directions. In this country, we have, as one example, witnessed the steady growth of “shut-down” tactics on college campuses of conservative speakers or speakers with any point of view that the academic left finds at odds with its point of view. As colleges are increasingly run by left-leaning administrations, speech restrictions on campuses are proliferating and their effect on free and open speech is chilling. No longer are our colleges and universities marketplaces of ideas but, rather, silos of leftist dogma.
It seems ironic that institutions of higher learning, on the one hand, devote disproportionate time extolling what in their cases is a mythical concept of diversity, and on the other promoting layer upon layer of exclusionary speech codes and allowing, and even encouraging, the exclusion of speakers of differing viewpoints.
We have recently seen many notable persons “disinvited” from speaking at various universities or disrespected if they did speak. Political scientist Charles Murray was attacked by protesters at Middlebury College in Vermont, and conservative commentator Heather MacDonald was shouted down at UCLA. Ann Coulter has been “disinvited” from talking at some colleges, and an appearance by British media personality Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled at the University of California-Berkley campus. The list is lengthy.
Closer to home, in Washington County and in neighboring Allegheny County, we have seen political events where elected officials have been shouted down, where their offices have been mobbed and effectively shut down, and where their essential citizen services have been overwhelmed by denial-of-services tactics. All this is denial of free speech.
The denial of free speech we are seeing is clearly being fomented by the left. When free speech disappears, the result is one group dictating what is true – in other words totalitarianism. That is the objective of the left, a one-party system, their system. For the left, big government is the answer. Totalitarianism is the biggest government, their nirvana.
This is why we must fight every attempt to deny free speech. Keep the marketplace of ideas open. Our future and our freedom depend on it.
Withdrawing from the Paris Accord was the right call
by Dave Ball
June 12, 2017
President Trump’s announcement that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord apparently has caused more liberal anxiety than any event since his election but, unfortunately, no further pledges from Hollywood types to leave the country.
At one point in his speech announcing the withdrawal, in an attempt to explain his focus on protecting American interests, President Trump said, “I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
This drew immediate reaction from His Honor, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. Peduto said that he was “offended” that Trump mentioned Pittsburgh in his climate speech. While the mayor has every right to be offended if he wishes, there are many others who are equally offended that Peduto is associated with Pittsburgh, so I guess we have a standoff.
The mayor noted, incorrectly, that, “Hillary Clinton collected 80 percent of the votes that Pittsburghers cast in November.” I can think of better advertisements for Pittsburgh but, hey, go for it Mr. Mayor. Every surrounding county went for Trump by margins of 60 percent to 75 percent.
In withdrawing from the Paris accord, Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do during his campaign and what the American people elected him to do. He is withdrawing America from an agreement that was poorly negotiated, that has no chance of achieving its vaguely stated goals, that would have cost this nation untold billions of dollars and millions of lost jobs, that would create a monumental income-redistribution slush fund for globalist United Nations bureaucrats and that was unconstitutionally entered into in the first place.
The president rightly is putting America and American workers first.
While liberals and academics are busy indulging in hysterical responses to the withdrawal, I suspect few have any idea what the accord really says or requires.
The stated aims of the accord are to limit the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change in a manner that does not threaten food production and to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse emissions.
Reduced to its essence, all this is to be achieved by reducing the global production of carbon dioxide by amounts to be determined voluntarily by the signatory nations. There are no mandatory amounts, there is no compliance monitoring and there are no non-compliance penalties. In fact, if all signatories were to comply with their voluntary commitments, the earth’s temperature is estimated to be reduced by less than 0.17 degree C in the next 85 years. If China were not to comply with its commitment for a total of three weeks, it would negate the U.S. commitment altogether.
The big kicker is the finance agreement by which developed countries are supposed to commit to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 and continue to mobilize $100 billion a year until 2025 to aid developing countries in some unspecified actions to deal with unspecified and speculative climate-change impacts. What could possibly go wrong with a well-defined plan like that?
In 2016, the Obama administration gave a grant of $500 million to the Green Climate Fund as the first payment of a $3 billion commitment. Does anyone know what this fund is supposed to do? It is administered by the UN, a problem in and of itself, for “green projects.” Noble, but with apparently no oversight. All of these commitments of American taxpayer money were made without any authorization from Congress.
The cost to the U.S. economy for meeting the Obama administration requirements for the climate accord is estimated by NERA Economic Consulting to be $3 trillion over a period of several decades. By 2040, our economy would lose 6.6 million industrial-sector jobs, of which 3.1 million would be in manufacturing. In Washington County, we have already seen the brutal impact of what the Paris accord would look like in shut-down coal mines, endangered power plants and the struggling steel towns of the Mon Valley.
The United States is already $20 trillion in debt, thanks in large measure to the Obama administration. American taxpayers must not be burdened with more debt to subsidize the energy needs of other countries under the guise of an undefined, uncontrolled, unmonitored and unattainable clean energy plan that will do little for the climate.
All most people heard in the president’s speech was his description of how the agreement was bad for the economy, bad for taxpayers and of very questionable value in protecting the environment. He also said that the U.S. would be environmentally conscious, but not by shipping our jobs overseas, shutting down our energy industry or diminishing our national prosperity and quality of life. That is what I would expect an American president to say, and it was a relief after the past eight years.
That was not the most significant part of his speech, however. What made his speech significant was what he said about restoring American exceptionalism. In discussing additional reasons for withdrawing, Trump said, “There are serious legal and constitutional issues as well. Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia and across the world, should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives, thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty. Our Constitution is unique among all nations of the world. And it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it. And I will. It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave this agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.”
I hope everyone understands the importance of those words. In making that statement, the president announced that we are no longer on the path of globalization. “America First” will become a meaningful and sincere policy. The implications of this are huge and deserve full discussion in future writings.
For the present, the president has done the right thing for the nation and certainly for the citizens of Washington County in leaving the Paris climate accord.
When Conservatives Celebrate Socialism
by Dave Ball
April 19, 2017
To Conservatives, belief in an open and free economy and in the free market is a core belief.
We, as conservatives, espouse the free enterprise system, talk endlessly about reward for performance and view redistribution of wealth as the ultimate pox of socialism. We disavow the politically correct practice of rewarding “participation”. We encourage competition and boldly declare that, in this world, there are winners and there are losers.
It would seem, at first glance, that America’s love affair with professional sports is the personification of the gladiatorial spirit of free market competition, the reward for performance, mano-a-mano battle free of political correctness and socialism. But, on further review, is it? Have American professional sports instead become the poster child for everything that Conservatives say they abhor?
Let’s look at professional sports at the macro level, the league level. Whether we are talking basketball, baseball, hockey or football, each year begins with a large number of teams competing for a championship. The National football League has 32 teams and the National Basketball, Baseball and Hockey leagues each have 30 teams. The baseball season is 162 games long, the basketball and hockey seasons are 82 games long and the football season is 16 games long. At the end of those seasons, championship playoffs begin. In baseball, 10 teams make the playoffs meaning 162 games only eliminates 67% of the teams from championship consideration. In football, 12 teams make the playoffs meaning 16 games have eliminated only 63% of the teams. In hockey and basketball, 16 teams make the playoffs so 82 games eliminate less than half the teams from championship consideration.
After what seems like endless rounds of playoffs, each league finally crowns a champion. A triumph for the concept of competition? Hardly. This is where the losers win. There is no cost to the teams that perform poorly, that don’t make the playoffs, and that give their fans little to cheer about during the regular season. In fact, this is where redistributive socialism kicks in. The worst teams are rewarded with the early picks in the amateur drafts. “Winning” high draft picks is so valuable that teams have been known to tank at the end of a miserable season to assure an early draft pick. The rationale for this is a nebulous concept called “parity”. I call it the ultimate participation trophy. Someone needs to explain to me where ”parity” fits into the conservative understanding of competition and free market economy. Parity might have some validity if professional sports were purely entertainment but it is assuredly not. It is big business. Successful teams make millions of dollars, entire industries such as broadcast and cable TV, equipment and apparel are dependent on professional sports teams and the franchises themselves are often worth a billion dollars. Movies are entertainment. But even there, have you ever heard of the director of a box office flop being awarded first pick of scripts and stars for his next film? Didn’t think so.
Professional sports are cartels, legally protected cartels. The number of franchises are fixed. Entry barriers are exorbitant. The franchises are controlled by those who own the other franchises so there is virtually no market mobility. Host cities, and hence taxpayers, are frequently extorted for public funds to build stadiums and provide other tax benefits by the threat of moving a franchise. All this is far short of the conservative ideal of free market competition and free economy.
The single largest source of revenue is broadcast rights. The multi-billion dollar revenue from this is shared in various ways by the leagues with larger shares often going to poorer performing franchises. Basketball receives about $4 billion in broadcast revenue that is shared according to team’s markets. Football, also with about $4 billion in broadcast revenue, shares that equally among all teams. There are initiatives on the part of the players union to also require that stadium revenues from things like luxury boxes and concession sales also be shared. How socialist is that? Baseball has a complicated revenue sharing system that diverts more revenue from high revenue (aka large market) teams to low revenue teams – low performance has its rewards. Hockey also has a revenue sharing system to subsidize smaller market and lower performing teams.
So, to summarize American professional sports leagues, they are legally protected cartels with impenetrable entry barriers that practice monopoly business and blatantly socialist redistribution of wealth to reward those who perform poorly in the market place. How many of us Conservatives are, literally or figuratively, in the stands cheering on this behavior?
In European soccer, there is a tiered structure to leagues. There is an elite league composed of only the very best performing teams and then there are lesser leagues of progressively less talented teams. Each year, the teams that perform least well in the higher leagues are “relegated” to lower leagues and the high performing teams from lower leagues are promoted to higher status leagues. Performance does indeed have consequences. The higher the league, the greater the revenue potential. There is no subsidy of poor performing teams because they are your competition to survival in the league. There is no chance that the 16th best performing team will be in a playoff series with the top team. The regular season has consequences, right down to the last day. The system may not be perfect, in fact is not, but it is a lot closer to a free market product than American sports.
My point in this discussion is that professional sports is a metaphor for much of what is wrong in the way conservatives like to talk about their values. Our values are too often “squishy” and not rock solid. We say things one must wonder if we really understand and if we really mean. If we do understand and if we do mean what we say, are we really willing to defend what we say?
Think about it. The free market/free enterprise example afforded by professional sports is but one example. Who is ready to stand up and campaign for legislation removing the monopoly status of professional sports? Who is willing to support tiered leagues, even if it means that a local team, based on its performance, might not be a “major league” team? Do we really mean that a core principle of conservatism applies to everything or just things we want it to apply to?
Democrats Being Democrats – Blatant Voter Fraud Charged in Philadelphia 197th District Special Election
by Dave Ball
March 31, 2017
The 197th Legislative District is located in North Philadelphia. It is home to 57,125 people, 73.5% black and 2.9% Hispanic. 85% of the registered voters are Democrat but in most elections about 95% of the vote is Democrat, not an unusual situation in the City of Brotherly Love.
On March 21st, a Special Election was held in the 197th District because the incumbent was forced to resign in January having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, a federal felony. The Democratic candidate in the Special Election was removed from the ballot when his residency was successfully challenged. The Democrats nominated a replacement but filed too late. The Green Party also nominated a candidate and also filed too late. This left Republican Lucinda Little as the only candidate on the ballot. The Green Party and Democratic candidates pursued write in campaigns. Not to worry in Philadelphia. Write- ins present all sorts of opportunity for creative voting.
Election day saw an anemic turnout. 2,442 of the 197th District’s upstanding citizens allegedly showed up at the polls to do their civic duty. Even with about 95% of the registered voters, the Democratic machine felt compelled to crank up the fraud machine. So much so that the Pennsylvania State Republican Party is filing a Federal Lawsuit to have the election voided and asking PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro to launch an investigation. See the video link below of the PAGOP Press conference:
State GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio notes that they have never seen such blatant tampering or violations of the magnitude that occurred in this election. Tampering with ballots, staffing polling locations with unauthorized poll workers, and election board officials handing out “write in” stamps are serious violations of our election code he noted. The violations were so blatant that even a well know Democratic Party attorney is joining in the lawsuit.
The Democrat write-in won with 1,964 votes, the Green Party Write-in received 280 votes and the Republican on the ballot received 198 votes. No, the Republican wouldn’t have won even if the election were fair but the point is that if the Democrats will go hyper fraud in a walk over election, what will happen in competitive races?
This is a great lesson for us as to why we need our Judges of Election and poll watchers. It is the only way we have to assure fair and honest elections. It is also a good reminder of what Democrats do when you don’t watch them. They’ve done it since Tammany Hall days. It is part of their DNA.
With the Democrat’s Selection of Tom Perez and Keith Ellison as Party Chairman and Vice Chairman it’s Game On
by Dave Ball
March 10, 2017
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t pay much attention to who the Democrats chose as the head of the DNC. One liberal no-mind is pretty much the same as the next. We do not live in normal times, however, and the choice they made is very significant to Republicans.
In the eight years of Obama mismanagement, the Democrats suffered one setback after another as Obama led the party steadily left. After the November election, the extent of the carnage was evident for even the most disbelieving liberal to see. Not only was Clinton not anointed Czarina as they all expected but they held neither legislative house and lost badly in state elections across the nation. The Democrats found themselves at an historic low point on the power curve. The country had soundly repudiated leftist progressivism. Their party landscape was a nuclear wasteland. The Democrats were fractured, with young dems supporting the antiquarian Bernie Sanders and Pocahontas Warren. Older dems clung to the Clinton myth, criminality and all. None could seem to understand the reality that neither their message nor their candidates offered anything that America wanted.
Limping into the Democratic National Convention, even the dems realized that new leadership and new direction was critically needed. The question to the average delegate was who and what direction. To the leadership, this had been determined. In the end, it came down to Tom Perez, Obama’s former Labor Secretary and Keith Ellison, Nation of Islam member and Representative from Minnesota. To many, this seemed the devil’s own choice. Ellison is about as radical as they come. A Muslim, possibly the most radical member of Congress, who would represent a turn to the far, far left. Ellison was regarded by some as a potentially suicidal choice. Why these two? When Perez was elected on the second ballot by a 235 – 200 margin, seemingly to appease the Sanders faction, many democrats heaved a sigh of relief, assuming they had dodged a bullet and escaped an openly deranged radical extremist. Because Perez was seen as not as extreme as Ellison, he was immediately defined as “moderate” and declared just the Moses needed to lead the dems out of their troubles and into the land of milk and honey (or socialism to the democrats). His first action as Chairman was to appoint Ellison as his Vice Chairman. Way to dodge the bullet, so much for selecting a moderate and does anyone think there was not a plan behind this.
Looking into Perez’ past as a predictor of the future is pretty scary. This is not a good person. Perez headed a group that took a $1.5 million donation from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to help illegal immigrants flaunt U.S. immigration law. His father was Ambassador to the US from the Dominican Republic and a well know operative for Dominican Republic thug Rafael Trujillo. In his early days working for Obama, Perez was an Assistant Attorney General who declined to prosecute the infamous Black Panthers who stood outside Philadelphia polling places with clubs. Why should he prosecute them? They were helping his party and he was the ever- faithful company man. Then there was the issue of uncounted military ballots. As long as these were considered to be mostly Republican, Perez refused to take up the case. When it became known that many were probably democratic votes, he got interested quickly. And of course there was the matter of his failure to halt obvious voter fraud in Florida by stopping the state from purging 182,000 non-citizens from the voter rolls. He has also filed many lawsuits against municipalities to force them to ignore tests for police and fire fighters and to implement affirmative action hiring plans.
It should be pretty clear that Tom Perez is an ultra- left activist and no moderate. Why, then, would Democrats want to install two ultra- leftists when “leftward ho” worked out so well for them over the past eight years? The dems, under a continuing Obama influence, and financed by Obama money, have several objectives. One is to transform America into a Muslim loving democratic socialist nation. To do this, the democrats must do a couple things. One is to change existing voter laws so that immigrants, and specifically illegal immigrants, can vote. This will swamp some traditionally blue states and give the democrats lasting and unbreakable power on the presidency and most probably the Senate. They will replace the blue collar and labor vote that they have lost with the low knowledge Hispanic vote. Think of it – tens of millions of easily controlled low information voters in the fastest growing demographic and a demographic that can be grown even faster with open borders. This is the Democrat strategy. Open borders and changed election laws. Slimy, underhanded, illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, yup, but nothing new for them.
We, as Republicans, must understand what we are witnessing and fight it with all our power. We need to close ranks around the President, stop bickering about small issues and focus on the coming Democrat/MSM onslaught because it has started already. Look at the irrational pushback on immigration control. Look at challenge after challenge to perfectly reasonable voter ID laws. Look at burgeoning unassimilated Hispanic communities in border states and elsewhere. Look at irrational decisions by radical left courts allowing voting by non-citizens. Look at the constant attempts to marginalize the President and thwart his programs. It’s all there, folks. The plan is in motion.
The election of Tom Perez with Keith Ellison as his assistant was no accident or fluke. It is part of a long term and well- funded plan.
It is time to fight because it’s game on.
President Donald Trump Emerges
by Dave Ball
March 1, 2017
Last night while watching his speech to Congress, I was really proud of our President. Last night Donald J. Trump clearly demonstrated to all Americans and to the world that he is the President of the United States of America. There is no doubt that this nation made the right choice last November.
President Trump began his speech with a message of unity and of strength. He called for the renewal of the American spirit. He called for an America that is strong, proud and free. He noted that he had made many promises during his campaign and that he and his administration would keep those promises to the American people.
Last night’s speech was not the dark and often confrontational inaugural address. Last night Donald Trump proved that he has become the President of this great nation. The President certainly laid out his agenda but he also extended a hand to his opponents to work with him for the good of our nation. He offered a number of areas where compromise is possible. While his speech may not have hit the rhetorical chords of a Ronald Reagan, it was solid, held attention and occasionally rose to emotional high points as when he introduced the widow of war hero Ryan Owens who received a two minute ovation.
Overall, Democrats should be scared to death by this speech. Many entered the evening expecting the President to self-destruct with barbs and partisan jabs providing endless fodder for the talking heads of the main stream media to eviscerate him with over the coming weeks. Initial reaction was amazingly muted because the President gave a great speech. Oh, they will find plenty to talk about but it will be minutia. Some will say he didn’t provide enough detail, some will say he didn’t mention one thing or another. Others will take exception to a particular program. Even Republicans will find fault as some will find his programs not conservative enough and others will find them too conservative. He had one hour to cover a game plan for the entire country. Not everything fits into that time slot.
Some major takeaways from the President’s speech, at least in my view, were:
- There will be major changes in tax structure. The focus will be on tax reductions for the middle class and tax reform to make businesses competitive. The focus of reform will be to create American jobs. While lacking in the detail that business analysts no doubt were looking for, this is a work in progress within the administration. I think the President wise to wait until there is some agreement before offering details.
- The President spent significant time on the immigration issue and did a very good job positioning it as an issue of safety for Americans. He clearly enunciated the words, “Radical Islamic Terrorism”, something Obama could not get out of his mouth. He clearly stated that the purpose of the immigration moratorium was to provide adequate vetting procedures to be put in place to protect Americans. He said that the administration will reform the system of legal immigration to improve jobs for Americans, strengthen American Security and assure that everyone follows American law. As the camera panned around the Democrat seating areas, they looked pretty ridiculous staring stonefaced and sitting on their hands when he talked about making America safer.
- One of the two initiatives raised by the President that I don’t really understand is his proposal to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Obama proposed a similar “stimulus” package that proved to be a major boondoggle. Obama’s plan was supposed to be for “shovel ready” jobs and it turned out there were not very many. The fear is that this proposal will turn into a major league pork package with little real impact. He spoke of “public-private” partnerships to fund it but, again, that does not have a track record of practicality. I hope people keep an open mind about this proposal until the details emerge but it does not seem like a very conservative Republican plan on face value. This is not to say that our infrastructure is not in disastrous shape and badly needs to be addressed, however.
- The second proposal somewhat out of the blue was the President’s proposal for paid family leave. Not only is this not Conservative, it is not even Republican. It is, however, a cause championed by his daughter Ivanka. This may be very difficult to get any real Republican support on.
- The President had a great moment when he introduced Denisha Merriweather during his proposal for school choice. The President aimed this message at all demographics. Yes, our children most definitely deserve a chance to learn, despite teachers unions and crumbling city school systems. That learning can occur in many different formats. Just be aware that there are consequences for municipalities as children move from public to private to charter to home school settings.
- The President offered strong support for the military, pledging to restore our fighting force to its premier position in the world after a decade or more of neglect. He also said that while we will support our allies, they must contribute their share to that support. The President emphasized that we will strengthen our military and back our allies and rid the earth of the Islamic State.
- Then, of course, there was healthcare. The President vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare with a plan that expands choice, reduces cost and provides better outcomes. Such a plan, he said, will cover existing conditions and provide a transition from current plans. It will help Americans to purchase their own coverage – the plan that they want. No one will be left out. The plan will change the legal landscape to protect doctors and healthcare providers from high legal costs and will provide access to plans across state lines.
The President finished big by pledging to break the cycle of violence in the cities and to support veterans. He said, “The time for small thinking is over”. Indeed it is.
It was really interesting watching the Democrats throughout the speech. Their behavior, with few exceptions, was embarrassing and infantile. I suppose at some level, we should be glad that America had the chance to view how stupid these folks really are. They are in the hall of congress, in the midst of a large number of enthusiastic people, listening to a positive speech about the greatness of America. In this setting, they chose to act out like small children. It began with the democrat females wearing white outfits which, if nothing else, made them look like a visiting nurses aid society. The head “mean girl” Nancy Pelosi sat there with a peeved look on her face making snide comments to those near her. She refused to applaud or stand even for the most patriotic and positive comments. Pelosi and Keith Ellison refused to stand even when the widow of Ryan Owens was introduced. That was rude, stupid and disrespectful. The Democrats, as a group, would not applaud when the President spoke of protecting the American people, saving major cities, reducing violence, bringing back manufacturing or de-regulating the economy. Might it be that if these things were done, it would expose what a fraud the past eight years have been?
One can understand why the Democrats would not applaud the President’s call to reduce illegal immigration since that is the Democrat equivalent of a voter registration drive. It’s hard to understand why they would not applaud calls to eliminate sanctuary cities unless you understand they favor illegal alien criminals over law abiding American citizens. The Democrats do not want to protect the United States or keep it safe. They want to see Islamics overrun Israel. They do not want Americans to control their own well being since they see this as the place of the central government elite. There are 94 million people out of work and 43 million people on food stamps. We are in the midst of the weakest recovery in history. Iran is building an atomic bomb and so is North Korea. Cuba is still a communist hell hole. Poverty and crime have increased in the last eight years. The military is appreciably weaker. This is the legacy of Barack Obama and the Democrats. If they sat through this speech in silence, it should have been in shame.
A month ago, the Democrats and the media regarded President Trump as a buffoon or worse. Last night their greatest fear was realized. Donald Trump is the President of the United States and he has a strong vision to make this nation great again. He also has the drive and skill to make it happen. Democrats are an endangered species.
Last night we saw two things; a President with a vision and a group of petulant children still pouting because they lost. The democrats have some tough choices to make. They can grow up and cooperate, or at least not obstruct, or they can suffer another trouncing in 2018. As Republicans, it is our task to assure that we keep the pressure on and the momentum going. I’m all for another trouncing in 2018 cooperation or not.
Of Town Hall Meetings and Braying Jackasses
by Dave Ball
February 27, 2017
Town Hall Meeting – a forum in which elected officials meet with citizens to answer questions and discuss issues of interest.
At least that is what a Town Hall Meeting used to be before the hard left appropriated the forum as a vehicle to showcase Saul Alinsky tactics of deception and intimidation.
The left has obviously not gotten over the fact that they lost the election and Hillary was not anointed Comrade President to continue the Obama socialist takeover of America. For America, this is great news. We will survive and thrive under President Trump. We will return America to greatness and that is, apparently, what is scaring the daylights out of the left. They see their dream of shredding the Constitution and turning this nation into a third world “worker’s paradise” going up in smoke and they are behaving like little children, throwing a tantrum and stamping their feet.
We see news reports of Senior Democratic officials saying that they will respond to the increasing desire of their way-to-the-left liberal base and wage an all-out war against President Trump. Less than two months and there goes the idea of “bi-partisanship” on anything. To refresh everyone’s minds as to what Bipartisanship is, it has three major definitions. Bi-partisanship is what Democrats usually seek when they are in the minority and want Republicans to “work with them” to pass programs favored by democrats. “Bi-Partisanship” is what weak willed RINOs usually exhibit that keeps Conservative programs from being implemented. “Bipartisanship” is what Democrats forget all about when they are in the majority.
Speaking to the “all-out war”, Governor Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, and a poster child for the loony left, is quoted as saying, “My belief is, we have to resist every way and everywhere, every time we can.”
How is the Inslee War Strategy likely to work out? Well, let’s see, Obama shifted the Democratic Party ever leftward and under his brilliant leadership the Democrats lost 11 Senate seats, 62 House seats and 10 Governorships as well as about 1000 state legislative seats. I would certainly encourage Democrats to continue in this leftward strategy and to follow Inslee and the Democrat “senior leadership”. It may be possible to have 90% majorities in both houses.
It seems that the leftist zealots driving the Democrats further left believe that mobilizing useful idiots, unions and socialist groups, (but that’s redundant, isn’t it), for street protests, breaking windows, burning cars, carrying profane signs, wearing vulgar outfits and other childish agitation is the way they will achieve victory. It seems not to have occurred to the radicals that this is simply pushing their party further away from the American public, the adults, the people who vote. It is catering only to the interests of the coastal extremes of the party. Hating President Trump as a central focus is not a strategy for winning elections; it is an emotional response of immature adolescents.
All of this brings us to recent happenings in Washington County and surrounding areas. These are the phony “Town Hall Meetings” staged by left wing union groups and Democrats intended to ambush Republican legislators. The MO goes like this; a Democrat group, in association with some group like the SEIU, announces a Town Hall meeting with a Congressman on short notice, generally failing to invite the Congressman or only “inviting” the Congressman at the last minute. Why would the elected official want to attend such a function where there are essentially no rules and there is no intent to discuss anything, only to harangue and harass? We saw one example of this when Congressman Tim Murphy was “invited” to a Town Hall meeting at the Court House in Washington. Democrats aided by the SEIU and a local non-profit made sure that the deck was heavily stacked with SEIU demonstrators and sign carriers. Not only was the Congressman not invited but the sponsors told the press that Congressman Murphy had cancelled and was known to cancel from these events. Nothing could be further from the truth. To compound the bias and illegality, the Democrat County Commissioners allowed the rally to take place in the Commissioner’s meeting room despite specific county policy prohibiting such events in county facilities. The good news is very few people actually showed up. A group from the non-profit and the SEIU people and staffers were probably the majority of the 40 or so in attendance.
Earlier, Congressman Murphy was scheduled to speak to a class at Duquesne University. Someone posted signs around campus urging mass attendance and urging people to ask questions about all sorts of topics not related to the purpose of the class. When it became apparent that there would probably be people who were not only not part of the class but not part of the University in attendance and probably there to agitate and harass and that the campus police could not provide adequate security (despite statements made later), Cong. Murphy had no choice but to cancel his appearance.
The left, of course, has a field day pumping out lie after lie to their compliant media buddies about elected officials being afraid to discuss issues with constituents and cancelling meetings. This is when they take time away from lying about the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act and controlling immigration.
It is a sad state of affairs but the Democrats have moved so far left that they no longer know or care what truth is. They are scared to death that President Trump will do exactly what he promised from one end of his campaign to the other – to dismantle the administrative mess that Obama created. They will tell whatever lies they can and create whatever fake news stories they can to try to discredit the President and maintain their cozy socialist publicly supported positions. What, me work?
It’s over for them. Socialism ends when the people with the money (that’s you and me, the taxpayers) refuse to keep paying. We are there. It is up to us to keep up the momentum we gained in November, to support our elected Republicans and to bury the whining and corrupt left.
There is much work to do. It begins with replacing the Unaffordable Care Act and extends on to protecting our borders, protecting the vote, promoting business, housecleaning government bureaucracy and reforming taxes. That’s just the beginning.
God bless our great nation.
Distorted Media View of America
by Dave Ball
January 23, 2017
Switching from channel to channel over the weekend was really interesting. Firstly, it once again reminded me that I need to get outside more. More than that, however, it painted a clear picture of the distorted view of America that is being portrayed by our media.
At a macro level, the picture being presented was ten miles wide and a half- inch deep. It was all show and no analysis but that, unfortunately, is what we have come to expect from most of our media. Long gone are the true journalists, replaced by sound bite sensationalists, who are capable only of sending pictures edited to satisfy their political or social agenda with no analysis or analytical perspective. On the receiving side, the “one channel public”, people who receive their “news” from only one source that sooths their political or social perspective because they have never been taught the art of critical thought, soak up the images and never question the commentary.
I saw what we all saw. Endless hours of long range shots of mobs of mostly women parading in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Some carrying signs, many wearing shirts with logos of various natures. There were also shots of hoodlums breaking windows, burning cars, burning trash containers, destroying traffic signs and defacing buildings. The incessant message from the breathless talking heads was that these were huge protests against President Trump. That’s the half inch deep view.
No one was delving more deeply into who it was that was demonstrating, why they were there, and what caused such emotion in the first place.
To address the last question first, this nation has just endured eight years of the most divisive administration in memory. President Obama played the race and class cards on a regular basis. Further, he went out of his way to pursue an imperial presidency wherein much of his agenda was implemented by executive order creating further division. A constant vector to the left politically alienated much of the country as polls time and again clearly showed. Prior to the campaign, a Pugh Poll showed the United States was as politically divided as it ever had been in its history. A bitter campaign simply compounded the divide. It should, therefore, be no surprise that President Trump begins his presidency with a divided nation. The shame is how half of that nation is reacting to not being on the winning side. In 2008 and in 2012 Conservatives were equally disappointed at not winning but they did not display their disappointment by acting out like undisciplined pre-school children. Part of the problem may well be that many of today’s liberals have grown up in the “participation award” environment where they have never learned they can’t have everything they want, where they have no self-discipline. These are the snowflakes that populate our college campuses and need therapy animals and play dough to deal with the “trauma” of an adverse happening in their lives. These emotionally immature individuals may well be many of those who were acting out in some of the demonstrations.
Interviews with demonstrators and rioters ran the gamut from cogent to inane. Some of the marchers were able to articulate the cause they represented and why they were there. More were not able to articulate much of anything other than they were “just mad”. Organizers and speakers had various messages, again some cogent and some simply rabble rousing emotionalism. What was absolutely lacking was anything resembling the advertised inclusivity. Only one point of view was welcome and other views were clearly excluded. The march was definitely not about empowering all women but focused entirely on aggrieved leftists of the professional victim class.
What were the causes represented? Pretty much everything near and dear to the political left. There were of course the Pro-Choice abortion supporters, pro-gay marriage and pro-gay rights (whatever they are as opposed to anyone else’s rights) supporters, pro-marijuana supporters, pro-immigration supporters, Black lives Matter fans, Multiple lives (black, brown, Muslim etc.) matter fans (the same people who deride the “All Lives Matter” people) and, of course, those who simple hate President Trump because he wasn’t their choice.
My point is simply that, contrary to what many MSM newscasts might have their audiences believe, the marches were not a single issue protest against President Trump. Many demonstrators were proclaiming the same causes they have been demonstrating for, for many years. Many were not demonstrators at all but, rather, thugs and hooligans goaded on to commit malicious damage. The gathering was large because the previous administration had spent eight years developing a polarized and divided America and the venue was in the heart of liberal territory.
Free speech is a very fundamental right that we enjoy in this nation. For those that were expressing a point of view in a peaceful manner, as many were, that is their right whether we agree with their view or not. Those that stepped over the line of tasteful discourse by the use of obscene language or apparel, and there were many in this group, they need to grow up. What they are doing is purely exhibitionism and in poor taste. It is really hard to ascribe any credibility to celebrity speakers like Madonna and Ashley Judd when they talk about being loud and vulgar people or about blowing up the White House. Someone needs to explain how this advances the cause of women.
The hooligans who were destroying and damaging property were pretty easy to pick out of the crowd because most obviously were not part of any of the groups represented. Some may have been hired thugs, some may have simply been opportunists. In any case, of the 250 arrested and charged with felony rioting, if convicted, a large number need to be given jail terms and large fines. Thugs need to understand that the Obama policy of “room to riot” is over. Law and order is now the way of the land.
Our media needs to stop pouting and feuding and start a return actual journalism wherein they analyze events and look for causes and driving forces rather than editing sound bites to fit political and social agendas.
The Speech I Heard
by Dave Ball
January 21, 2017
Like a very large number of Americans, I watched President Trump’s Inaugural Address on Friday. Apparently the address that I watched was not the same one seen by a number of media outlets and talking heads. This is the real story of what needs to be changed in America.
President Trump gave a very strong and direct speech in which he minced no words in describing how his administration would govern. He clearly stated a number of things: he said that we, the citizens of America,are joined in an effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise to all people, that together we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come. He said we are transferring power from Washington back to the American people. He said that the establishment, the power elite in Washington, protected itself but not the citizens of this country. He said that what truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people.
President Trump said that the oath of office he took is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. He said that the day of America enriching foreign countries to our detriment is over. From this day forward, it is America first. He then went on to enumerate multiple ways in which that vision will benefit all Americans.
President Trump spoke of a new national pride and of spreading opportunity to all Americans. Whether born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or on the windswept plains of Nebraska, every child will be able to look up and be filled with the same dreams and be infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.
This is the speech I heard, and I know this is what I heard because I am reading the transcript as I write. A writer in the Guardian wrote, “His inaugural address sounded like any speech at a Trump rally. The scene was a campaign event writ large, with massive cheering crowd of white people wearing “Make America Great Again” red caps. Like his tone as a candidate, the new president’s voice was angry and dripping with pessimism….President Trump drew a dark picture of a country under siege from foreign trade competitors, Muslim terrorists and Washington insiders. There were no grace notes.” What speech did she watch? His sin, apparently, was that he didn’t use any of his short time “extending olive branches” and well wishes and being magnanimous. Then, apparently, the writer was appalled that he was rude to the Obamas. I wonder if she remembers Obama’s first inaugural speech and his comments about President Bush? At that point, she goes completely off the rails from talking about the inaugural speech and criticizes the “unprepared billionaires who displayed their ignorance at hearings last week”..and on to a love fest about Rep. John Lewis. Just for the record, President Trump mentioned terrorists once, in one sentence.
Leaders around the world seemed much more circumspect in their comments, as one would expect. Pope Francis urged Mr. Trump to show concern for the poor, Mexico’s president said that “we will work to strengthen our relationship with shared responsibility. The British offered President Trump “their warmest congratulations.
American celebrities, mostly snowflakes, were predictably distraught, seeing nothing but doom and gloom although none were speaking from Canada as they had promised. Local news media largely ignored the inauguration except to report on area residents who attended and to emphasize riots and demonstrations as opposed to the event itself.
So, how can it be that a speech that was very uplifting to all Americans, that promised to return government to the people, that promised to put America first in the dealings of the nation be seen as dark and gloomy? It only can from the perspective of special interests who feed off the government and depend on central government for their existence at the expense of the rest of us. In November Americans rose up and said they had had enough of that; That working Americans, those who paid the taxes, were tired of subsidizing bloated bureaucracies and overpaid bureaucrats. They were tired of governance by executive order. America was not achieving greatness under the socialist vision of Obama and the democrats and America wanted a change.
Friday at noon change arrived.