Monthly Archives: April 2009

Republican Tent Starting to Leak

liberty-bellSenator Arlen Specter announced Tuesday that he was switching his party affiliation to the Democrats.  Predictably, the self-appointed Republican advisors attributed his defection to the growing trend of intolerance among the Republican rank-and-file toward politicians whose views differ from their own.  The Republican Party, we are reminded, is the party of the “big tent”, big enough to accommodate all species of political animals.

Big tents are fine, if you are running a circus.  However, the Republican Party is not a circus; it just looks that way.  Tents are intended to be temporary structures, and are notoriously unstable in the face of a storm.  If republicans (small “R”) are to regain the stature they have enjoyed in providing leadership for the American people over the past four hundred years they are going to need a structure somewhat more stable than a tent.

The Republican Party needs an edifice with a foundation strong enough to withstand any storm, even the “prefect storm” it is facing today.  Historically conservatism has been the foundation of the Republican Party since its founding in 1854.  The fortress of conservatism that protected the liberty of the people for more than a century began to be disassembled, stone by stone, in the Republican Party along with the rise of progressivism during the twentieth century.

Republicanism did not start with the Republican Party.  The words most frequently used by the founders before and after the Revolutionary War in their political discourse were the words, “republican” and “republicanism”.  These words are synonymous with what we mean when we talk about conservatism today—almost.  Republicanism in the Founders generation was based on six principles, not just the three most often used today to describe the “three legs” of conservatism:  small government, low taxes and private property.  In fact, the three legs of the conservative stool are not the most important as understood and practiced by the Founders.

Those principles were:

  1. Faith in God and His divine providence.
  2. Rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption.
  3. Allegiance to the Constitution.
  4. Limited government powers delegated by the people.
  5. Powers to tax limited to those necessary to run government.
  6. Right to private property as the fruits of labor.

Too many conservatives seem to have forgotten the first three principles while focusing totally on the latter.  While virtually all conservatives subscribe to these principles intellectually, few in the political class practice them in their public service.  Unless the Republican Party and its conservative base wishes to follow the Whigs into the dustbin of history, they need to return to the principles that have been shown to work over and over again.

The fact that Arlen Specter decided to rejoin the Democrats in a last ditch effort to salvage his political career is significant only to the extent that it prompts the Republican Party to reexamine its position.  From its inception, politics in America has been divided into two camps.  Those camps were summed up by President Reagan as those who believe government is the answer and those who believe government is the problem.  The departure of Specter is, hopefully, only the first step in the realignment of the two parties.  That realignment would be helped along if others would follow Specters example and align themselves with the party that most reflects their worldview, particularly, Olympia Snow, Susan Collins, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and a few others.

As attractive as the idea of a “big tent” might be, we do not have that luxury at this time in history.  We need to follow the example of Ronald Reagan in attracting Democrats and Independents to our side by converting them to republicanism not by compromising republican principles.  It worked for Jefferson in 1800 and it worked for Reagan in 1980.  It will work for the Republican Party in 2010 and 2012, but only if it restores the first three principles of republicanism to the party and uses those principles, as well as the latter three, to persuade others to join them.

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Republican Tent Starting to Leak

minute-man-2-lithoSenator Arlen Specter announced Tuesday that he was switching his party affiliation to the Democrats.  Predictably, the self-appointed Republican advisers attributed his defection to the growing trend of intolerance among the Republican rank-and-file toward politicians whose views differ from their own.  The Republican Party, we are reminded, is the party of the “big tent”, big enough to accommodate all species of political animals.

Big tents are fine, if you are running a circus.  However, the Republican Party is not a circus; it just looks that way sometime.  Tents are intended to be temporary structures, and are notoriously unstable in the face of a storm.  If republicans (small “R”) are to regain the stature they have enjoyed in providing leadership for the American people over the past four hundred years they are going to need a structure somewhat more stable than a tent.

The Republican Party needs an edifice with a foundation strong enough to withstand any storm, even the “prefect storm” it is facing today.  Historically conservatism has been the foundation of the Republican Party since its founding in 1854.  The fortress of conservatism that protected the liberty of the people for more than a century began to be disassembled, stone by stone, in the Republican Party along with the rise of progressivism during the twentieth century.

Republicanism did not start with the Republican Party.  The words most frequently used by the founders before and after the Revolutionary War in their political discourse were the words, “republican” and “republicanism”.  These words are synonymous with what we mean when we talk about conservatism today—almost.  Republicanism in the Founders generation was based on six principles, not just the three most often used today to describe the “three legs” of conservatism:  small government, low taxes and private property.  In fact, the three legs of the conservative stool are not the most important as understood and practiced by the Founders.

Those principles were:

  1. Faith in God and His divine providence.
  2. Rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption.
  3. Allegiance to the Constitution.
  4. Limited government powers delegated by the people.
  5. Powers to tax limited to those necessary to run government.
  6. Right to private property as the fruits of labor.

Too many conservatives seem to have forgotten the first three principles while focusing totally on the latter.  While virtually all conservatives subscribe to these principles intellectually, few in the political class practice them in their public service.  Unless the Republican Party and its conservative base wishes to follow the Whigs into the dustbin of history, they need to return to the principles that have been shown to work over and over again.

The fact that Arlen Specter decided to rejoin the Democrats in a last ditch effort to salvage his political career is significant only to the extent that it prompts the Republican Party to reexamine its position.  From its inception, politics in America has been divided into two camps.  Those camps were summed up by President Reagan as those who believe government is the answer and those who believe government is the problem.  The departure of Specter is, hopefully, only the first step in the realignment of the two parties.  That realignment would be helped along if others would follow Specters example and align themselves with the party that most reflects their worldview, particularly, Olympia Snow, Susan Collins, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and a few others.

As attractive as the idea of a “big tent” might be, we do not have that luxury at this time in history.  We need to follow the example of Ronald Reagan in attracting Democrats and Independents to our side by converting them to republicanism not by compromising republican principles.  It worked for Jefferson in 1800 and it worked for Reagan in 1980.  It will work for the Republican Party in 2010 and 2012, but only if it restores the first three principles of republicanism to the party and uses those principles, as well as the latter three, to persuade others to join them.

What Would Thomas Say?

minute-man-2-lithoWhat Would Thomas Say?

The Obama Administration, building on the profligate spending of the Bush Administration, and others in the past, have saddled future generations with crushing debts that could lead eventually to bankruptcy.  The total U.S. debt today, including unfunded mandates exceeds fifty trillion dollars.

We have always prided ourself on leaving an America where our children could expect a standard of living surpassing our own generation.  That seems to no longer be a possibility.  Unless there is an immediate turnaround, future generations will experience a marked decline in living standards brought about by confiscatory taxation and runaway inflation. Many are asking, “how did we get to this point?”

As is often the case, one of the reasons is a stubborn refusal to heed the advice and warnings of our forefathers.  Thomas Jefferson was one of those who foresaw the ruin public debt could bring on the country.  In an 1813 letter to Senator John W. Epps he made the case for responsible fiscal policy.  In it he wrote More

The Obama-Chavez Connection

minute-man-2-lithoThere can be no doubt that America is going through a period of transition unequaled in our history since the Revolution of 1775 -1781.  The American people voted for change and the Obama administration is delivering it — in spades.

The question is; what will the nation be like after the change?  There are two possible outcomes depending on the permanence of the transformation taking place.  There are already signs of another change on the horizon that has the potential of counteracting those being made.  No one can predict the future with any degree of accuracy.  However, we can look at the trends and see where they are likely to go.

The character of America in the twenty-first century will be determined by the outcome of events taking place during the present generation from 2000 to 2020.  One way of describing what the country is likely to look like in 2020 is by comparing it with other governments.  It is evident that President Obama and his supporters intend to take the country in the direction of socialism, or as Mark Levin more aptly describes it in his best selling book, “Liberty and Tyranny”, “statism”.

In looking for a model for a twenty-first century, socialist America it is only natural that socialist countries like the Soviet Union, Cuba, China and perhaps even the National Socialist government of Adolph come to mind.  However, it is so politically incorrect to compare any American, no matter his political philosophy, to Hitler that to do so immediately causes readers to discount the argument.  Therefore, let us put aside Nazi Germany as a possible model.

The socialist takeover of Russia, Cuba and China all came about as the result of an armed revolution, eliminating them as a model for a Socialist America.  That leaves us with the Democratic Socialist nations of Western Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, France and Germany.  However, these governments are too benign to fit the pattern being developed by Obama.

Instead of looking east to Europe, we need to look south.  To see how America will look in 2020 we need only to look at the nation of Venezuela and the Presidency of Hugo Chavez.  The tactics, strategy, personality, goals and the rise to power of Obama resembles Chavez more than any other socialist leader in modern times.

Chavez promotes a “participatory democracy” as does Obama.  Both were elected to office on a tidal wave of populist rhetoric directed primarily to the poor and working class.  The brand of socialism practiced by Chavez and Obama differ somewhat from the traditional socialism of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.  Chavez fashions his brand after Heinz Dieterich, a German Born University Professor in Mexico, and a close advisor to Chavez.  Dieterich is credited with originating the theory of “21st Century Socialism”.  His theories were published in book form and provide the theoretical basis for the Chavez regime.  Many Marxist Socialists reject both Chavez and Obama’s brand of socialism as not being socialist enough. See Here and Here

Obama’s socialism is fashioned after that of Saul Alinsky,  an American socialist and founder of the Community Organizing movement.  Alinsky is the author of “Rules for Radicals” from which Obama seems to get most of his tactical strategy.  Although Dieterich theory, Marxist theory and the Alinsky theory differ in details, the overall philosophy and the results of that philosophy are enough alike that we can use Venezuela as the model for future socialism in America under Obama.

Socialism does not have to be the future of America, but to avoid it we need to reset our political philosophy to a time in history when it worked.  For most conservatives, that would be during the Administration of Ronald Reagan.  I would go back even further, however, because by the time Reagan came on the scene we were so far along the road to socialism that his presidency was little more than a speed bump in its progress.

The period I would use is the period between 1801 and 1825.  I pick this time because the political challenge then was very similar to the one today. The question then, as now, concerned the size and power of the federal government.  The Patriots who fought and sacrificed in the struggle against the British, quickly formed into factions after the Revolution.  By 1787, there was a sharp division between the federalists who wanted a strong central government, and the anti-federalists who wanted strong state governments with a limited federal government restricted to those powers necessary for defense and other national interests.  The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were the result of a compromise between the two.

During the administration of George Washington, these two factions organized into the first political parties.  Vice-President John Adams and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton organized the Federalist Party which led to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison establishing the Democratic-Republican Party, referred to generally as “republicans”, in opposition.  The Federalist Party elected John Adams as President to succeed Washington in 1796.

Since the Twelfth Amendment was not ratified until 1798 Jefferson, who ran against Adams and came in second, became Vice-President.  As Vice-President and President of the Senate, Jefferson was able to keep Adams and the Federalists in check during Adams’ four year term.  Years later Jefferson described his Vice-Presidency and the struggle with the Federalist in a petition to the Virginia Legislature on another matter.

“If it were thought worth while to specify any particular services rendered,… There is one,… the most important in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion of my life; to wit, the head I personally made against the federal principles and proceedings, during the administration of Mr. Adams.”

“Their usurpations and violations of the constitution at that period, and their majority in both Houses of Congress, were so great, so decided, and so daring, that after combating their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in the least to check their career, the republican leaders thought it would be best for them to give up their useless efforts there, go home, get into their respective legislatures, embody whatever of resistance they could be formed into, and if ineffectual, to perish there as in the last ditch.”

“All, therefore, retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin alone in the House of Representatives, and myself in the Senate, where I then presided as Vice-President. Remaining at our posts, and bidding defiance to the brow-beatings and insults by which they endeavored to drive us off also, we kept the mass of republicans in phalanx together, until the legislatures could be brought up to the charge; and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if myself particularly, placed by my office of Vice-President at the head of the republicans, had given way and withdrawn from my post, the republicans throughout the Union would have given up in despair, and the cause would have been lost for ever.”

“By holding on, we obtained time for the legislatures to come up with their weight; and those of Virginia and Kentucky particularly, but more especially the former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved the constitution, at its last gasp. No person who was not a witness of the scenes of that gloomy period, can form any idea of the afflicting persecutions and personal indignities we had to brook. They saved our country however.”   ~ Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson ran against Adams in 1800 and defeated him.  Jefferson was succeeded after two terms by James Madison who served also for eight years to be followed by another Democratic-Republican, James Monroe who served until 1825.  By the middle of Monroe’s term in office, the Federalist Party had ceased to exist.

The federalist’s philosophy did not reemerge until the progressive/socialist movement in the early twentieth century in the Administration of Theodore Roosevelt.  Philosophically the Federalist Party was the forerunner of the Democratic Party of Today and the Democratic-Republican Party is the forerunner of today’s Republican Party.

If we are to survive as a Constitutional Republic we have to find leaders who like Jefferson, Madison and Monroe are dedicated to defending and adhering to the Constitution and we have to start with the 2010 Congressional elections.  Furthermore, we have to complete the job by 2012.  If Obama wins a second term, socialism will probably be too firmly entrenched for reform to be feasible.

Our first task is to retake the Republican Party and then retake the government and return it to its founding principles.  To do that it is important we (1) actively oppose all socialist policies promoted by either party, (2) identify sound conservative leaders and, (3) support them in the Republican primaries and general elections of 2010 and 2012.

Third Party Movement Gaining Steam

minute-man-2-lithoOne of the things coming out of last week’s Tea Parties is resurgence in the number of conservatives considering a third party.  I use the term “third party” to refer to any of the many parties presenting themselves as alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats.

Third parties play an important role in our political system; I myself am a member of the Conservative Party USA.  However, if the effects of a third party are to be positive and not negative, it is important to take a cold-eyed, objective look at just what the party can actually accomplish and what its role should be.

There are always a number of third parties in play in any election.  On the left today, there is the Green Party, the Democratic Socialist of America, the Socialist Party USA, and the Communist Party USA. On the right, there is the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, the Conservative Party USA, and the American Conservative Party. There is also a multitude of local and regional third parties that I am not aware of.

No third party candidate, identified as such has ever been elected on a national ticket—I consider congressional elections to be state elections.  Few, running on a third party ticket have been elected to the Senate or House.  The only one I can think of offhand is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (DSA). I’m sure there are a few others, but the fact remains, third party candidates are almost always “also rans”.  The electability of a third party candidate becomes even more unlikely at the national level.

Our winner-take-all-system is not conducive to a successful third party.  The stronger a third party, the more destructive it becomes to its own ends.  In national elections, the strongest third party candidate always contributes to the election of the candidate least favorable to the policies they advocate.  That has been the consistent pattern for the past 150 years since the two major parties came into prominence.

Some will no doubt point out that the Republican Party began as a third party in 1854 and elected Abraham Lincoln President six years later in 1860.  The political climate today is quite different, however from that in 1854.  First, the political parties of the time did not have the power they have today.  The Whig Party, replaced by the Republican Party had only been in existence twenty years at the time and was not an exceptionally strong party.

Second, the slavery question had not yet been settled and was a major source of discontent during that period in history.  The Republican Party was a coalition of former Whigs and disaffected Democrats who agreed with their anti-slavery ideals.  Opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act was the catalyst that allowed the fledgling Republican Party to survive and prosper.  Abraham Lincoln, himself, was a leader in the Whig Party of Illinois prior to the Republican’s first national convention at Jackson, Michigan in 1854.

Another common misconception of history involves Teddy Roosevelt and the Bull Moose Party.  Roosevelt was a leader in both the Progressive Party and the Republican Party.  He was elected Vice-President in 1900 on the Republican ticket with William McKinley.  McKinley was assassinated in 1901 and replaced by Roosevelt.  In 1904, Roosevelt won reelection as a Republican.  In 1912, he attempted to retake the Presidency from his former protégé William Howard Taft, as a Republican.

He lost the nomination to Taft and attempted to run as a third party candidate on the Bull Moose Party ticket, resulting in the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson.  His third party try pulled so many progressives out of the Republican Party that it was dominated by conservatives until after the ‘32 election of Franklin Roosevelt.

In spite of the lack of electoral success at the polls, I am still a strong supporter of the third party movement so long as it does not carry out the role of “spoiler”.  To determine what third parties should be doing, let’s take a look at what works.

If asked to name the most successful political party in America most people would answer either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.  Both would be wrong.  The most successful party of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is the Democratic Socialists of America.  They control both houses of Congress and the White House, and without fielding a single candidate under their banner, for national elective office.  They spend their time and money promoting their principles and supporting candidates who advance those principles, usually Democrats.

It does not matter to the DSA leadership if the man in the White House or the leaders in Congress are labeled Socialists, Democrats or Republicans so long as they work to implement the socialist agenda and implement socialist policies.  As someone once said, “It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Conservatives need to develop the same attitude.  We should be spending our efforts in educating the public about the conservative principles of limited government, low taxes, and capitalist economics, while identifying and supporting candidates who will promote those principles and defend the natural rights of life, liberty and property identified in the Declaration of Independence.  In other words, we should be promoting the founding principles of America and supporting candidates who do likewise.

To attempt to run a conservative candidate in opposition to Republican Party candidates in the general elections of 2010 and 2012 will insure the continuation of socialist/democrat dominance for generations to come. Instead, we need to identify solid conservative candidates and encourage them to run in the Republican Primaries to replace RINOs currently holding the office.  The Republican Party is the natural and historical home of conservatives.  We just need to take it back from the linguini spine, constitutionally illiterate, “moderates” currently masquerading as Republicans.

I believe this is the best way to take back the Party and our country.  The alternative is tyranny, servitude to the state and a declining standard of living for everyone.

Beware The Fair Tax

minute-man-2-lithoI have been considering the “Fair Tax” since it became the centerpiece of Mike Huckabee’s campaign for the Presidency in the 2008 elections.  A number of “tea party” protests on April 15 were given over, all or in part, to rallies for the Fair Tax. It is also getting accolades from a number of conservative commentators whose opinions carry a lot of weight with conservatives. For that reason I thought in might be wise to reconsider my original  position of opposition.

After reviewing my original research, extensive scrutiny of the FairTax.Org and FactCheck.Org websites, I find I am still opposed to the tax for a number of reasons.  The primary one is that it is unconstitutional.

FairTax.Org describes the Fair Tax as a progressive national retail sales tax.  Any type of regressive or progressive tax, whether under our present tax system or under a Fair Tax is, in my opinion, unconstitutional.  One of the underlying principles in all of our founding documents is that of equality or uniformity in the application of all laws, including tax law.  It is the principle of equality/uniformity that underlies the words “created equal” in the Declaration of independence and Articles 1.2.3, 1.8.2, 1.8.5, 1.9.4, 1.9.6, 1.9.8, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, and 5.0.3 in the Constitution, as well as Amendments 13.1, 14.1.3, 14.2.1, 14.2.2., 15.1.1, 19.1.1, 24.1, and 26.1.

The Sixteenth Amendment grants the power to Congress to, “lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”  It does not grant the power to make those taxes progressive.  There is nothing in the Constitution that would justify a progressive tax of any kind, whether on income, sales, or consumption.  The concept of a progressive tax comes from Karl Marx not James Madison.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2 requires that all “Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”  At the time, the idea of an income tax was not contemplated, therefore it is not included, however it does establish the principle of uniformity in levying taxes.

Ordinarily an argument of unconstitutionality would suffice, but in this case not everyone will agree with my contention that equality/uniformity is a basic principle underlying the founding documents.  Furthermore, a large percentage of citizens including many of my fellow conservatives, are more than willing to accept unconstitutional proposals if they appear practical and offer them a personal benefit.

A significant consequence of our current tax system is the redistribution of wealth with a sizable number of lower income citizens paying no tax at all.  In fact, many not only pay little or no taxes, they also receive a portion of the taxes paid by higher income citizens in refundable tax credits. This creates a mindset that causes many in the lower income brackets to be unconcerned about exorbitant taxes levied on fellow citizens with more income.

In fact, they are more likely to vote for spendthrift representatives rather than those who are more fiscally responsible, on the supposition that the spendthrift will provide more personal benefits.  This is one of the fundamental causes behind the current state of our government. The Fair Tax does not eliminate this obnoxious characteristic of our current tax code.

Many of the claims made by advocates of the Fair Tax are misleading, either unintentionally or by design.

1. Tax rate: The advertised tax rate is 23%.  This is misleading in spite of the fact that advocates of the Fair Tax readily admit it is an “inclusive rate”.  The real tax rate is 30%.  To illustrate this I will use an example given on the Fair Tax website.

“A lawyer bills a client $500. Taxes due on this sale are $150 for a total of $650. If his/her client only pays $350, then the lawyer would only remit 23 percent of the gross payment as tax ($80.50) with the monthly sales tax report. The next month, his client pays the balance of $300. The lawyer would remit 0.23 times $300 or $69.50 on that month’s sales tax report. The total tax remitted is the same.”

The average citizen, accustomed to paying sales tax, would assume the tax on $500 to be $115 at 23% ($500 x .23 = $115).  However, in this example the tax is not $115, but $150.  The reason is that the price is tax inclusive, that is, it is included in the price of the service.

The lawyer wishes to get $500 for his services.  If he adds 23% to the $500 fee as he would with a regular sales tax, the total fee for his services, including tax would be $615. Under the Fair Tax however, he would pay 23% of his gross revenue ($615 x .23 = $141.45). His net income from his service would be $473.55 ($615 – $141.45 = $473.55) In order to realize his full fee of $500, he would have to add 30% into the fee for a total of $650 ($650 x .23 = $149.50).  His after tax fee would then be $500.50, close enough for government work.

The real tax rate then is 30% not 23%.

2.  Market dislocations:  The imposition of the Fair Tax would cause major dislocations in the retail market since the tax is only payable on new items, not used, regardless of price.  This fact would induce consumers of expensive durable goods such as houses, autos, appliances, etc. to purchase used items rather than new.  For example a refrigerator selling for $1000 if purchased new would be $1,300 including tax.  The same refrigerator, used, would not be subject to the Fair Tax.  Allowing for depreciation a refrigerator used for a year would probably sell for a few hundred dollars less than a new one plus there is no tax.  Which one would the smart consumer buy?

A new car valued at $20,000 would cost the buyer $26,000 including tax.  The same make and model, used, with a few thousand miles on it, would probably sell for around $15,000 to $17,000, with no tax, a savings of about $10,000. Which would you buy?

It is easy to predict that the Fair Tax would depress the sale of new homes, autos, major appliances and other big ticket items.  It is unlikely the seller would be able to pass the tax along by inflating the price of used items.  The more sophisticated the buyer is; the less likely he or she will be willing to pay a premium price for a used product.

3.  Less buying power:  Most of those who advocate the Fair Tax point to the fact that it eliminates the IRS, stops deductions from our paychecks for Social Security and Medicare and gives us more buying power.  After going through the 36 page summary of the legislation, I believe it is safe to say that any additional buying power you have will be short lived.

Let’s say you are a renter paying $1,000 month rent.  Rent is taxable under the FT.  Your $1,000 rent payment suddenly becomes $1,300.  Maybe, you don’t rent, but own your own home.  Look at your last mortgage payment.  How much did you pay in interest?  How much do you pay for insurance?  Did you have someone cut your lawn or shovel your snow? All these things are taxable.  Pay your own health insurance? That is taxable.  So is your auto insurance. Visit a doctor or get a haircut. Taxable.

Furthermore, advocates of the FT claim it is revenue neutral.  There are plenty of experts who dispute this claim.  However, experts of any kind are wrong almost as often as they are right.  So, let’s just apply some common sense.  Proponents tell us that the Fair Tax is revenue neutral, meaning the federal government will get the same amount of taxes with FT as with the present system.

The corporate income tax, capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, and a couple of others would all be eliminated.  That means that the ordinary tax payer would have to pay enough additional taxes through the FT to replace the revenue from all the taxes eliminated.  There is no possible way the FT can be revenue neutral and at the same time lower the tax burden for the average citizen.

If I have aroused your interest, there are three documents you should read.
The Fair Tax: Fundamentals and Facts
The Fair Tax Act of 2007, Plain English Summary
Unspinning the Fair Tax by Fact Check dot Org.

The tax system we have now is terrible.  To dump it and go the Fair Tax, however, in my opinion, would be a disaster, .

Conservatives Still Don’t Get It

minute-man-2-lithoAfter hours of watching coverage of the Great American Tea Party and hours of listening to and reading commentaries on the coverage, and commentaries on the coverage of the coverage, I came to the conclusion that most of us still don’t get it.  I don’t expect liberals, socialists, statists and democrats to get it; their brains are wired differently.  But most conservatives don’t seem to have gotten it yet, either.

It is not out of control spending, astronomical national debt, and bureaucratic regulations that reach into every nook and cranny of our lives that are the problems.  These are only symptoms of the real problem.  For over a hundred years, we have allowed the political class free reign to do pretty much as they please, and they please to bolster their egos with more and more power.

As power increases, so does corruption and political lawlessness.  Today we have the most corrupt and lawless federal government in the history of the country.  The vast majority of government spending is illegal, most of the national debt is illegal and virtually all of the hundreds of federal bureaucracies are illegal.  If the same legal standards were applied to the political class that is applied to private citizens and private business executives, Washington would be empty, because everyone would be in prison.

This has been going on for so long that the average citizen has forgotten what it is that the federal government can legally do. For example, how often have you mentioned something that you consider wrong or immoral only to have the person you are talking to respond with, “no, that’s okay, I do that myself?”  Just as we have a natural tendency to measure morality against what we ourselves do, we have a similar tendency to decide what is permissible or even desirable for the government to do depending on how it affects us personally.

The poster child for this line of thinking is Bill O’Reilly, host of the “O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News. His is the number one rated show in cable news, dwarfing all the others on his own and competitive networks.  I have watched his show for years and have always been puzzled by its popularity, until it finally dawned on me that his audience must have the same standards of what is acceptable that he has. Since his views are generally conservative and most of the Fox News audience is conservative leaning it’s only natural they should compliment each other.

I usually agree with most of his conclusions, but it is evident that he has no consistent standard by which to judge.  He has no “yardstick” with which to measure the actions and pronouncements of those about whom he comments.  His judgment on most subjects seems to be based solely on whether or not he would do the same thing or take the same actions himself.

Since April 15 is tax day, it was expected that the tea party protests would focus on taxes and spending.  However, in watching and listening to participants, and reading their signs, I got the distinct impression that most would be fine with a little less spending and a little lower taxes, so long at the money spent went to things like roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, education, health care and so on.  However, the Constitution is very specific on items the federal government is legally permitted to raise taxes and spend money for.  Few of the things most citizens expect the government to regulate and pay for are included in that list.

For example, one of my favorite conservative commentators is Mark Steyn. In his column on the tea parties, speaking about government spending he said this:

“OK, to be less absolutist about it, my interests include finding a road at the end of my drive every morning, and modern equipment for the (volunteer) fire department and a functioning military to deter the many predators out there, and maybe one or two other things. But 95 percent of the rest is not just “special interests” but social engineering.”

Only one of the three items mentioned by Mr. Steyn is the responsibility of the federal government, a functioning military. The rest are the responsibility of state and local governments as are education, health care, social programs, museums, parks, etc.  If they are needed and desired by citizens of the various states it is the state’s responsibility to provide them and pay for them with tax money raised from citizens of the respective states.

The Tenth Amendment is the heart and soul of the Constitution. Without it the Constitution is just another historical document, interesting but meaningless in the hands of the professional politician.  That is why the emerging “state sovereignty movement” based on the Tenth Amendment is so important to our future.

Tracy Coyle, a reader, reminded me in a comment on my last article that state governments are just as bad as the federal government.  She is right of course, but there are some differences.  In the Constitution, the Framers attempted to divide the powers of government with checks and balances to ensure each part of government kept to its own sphere.

To use the analogy of Thomas Jefferson in explaining the separation of church and state, the Constitution places a wall between the federal and state governments and between the governments of the various states.  Article 1, Sections 9 and 10, Article 4 and Amendment 10 spells out the relationship between the states and the federal government.  Apart from those mentioned there are no restrictions on the legislative powers of the states other than those placed by its citizens.

The federal government gets its powers from the states and the states get their powers from the people.  Over the past hundred years, the wall between the federal and state governments have broken down and the federal government has spilled over into the daily lives of individual citizens to an oppressive degree. That was neither the intent nor the design of the Founders.

The Bill of Rights is designed to protect citizens from both a tyrannical federal and tyrannical state governments.  The federal government has intruded into the daily lives of individual citizens to the point that all our attention is directed to it and we have allowed the state and local governments to become as corrupt and tyrannical as the federal.  If we are ever to regain control of our governments as intended by the Founders, we must develop a zero tolerance for illegal actions by our federal officials as a first step.

All laws federal, state and local are governed by the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land.  Any violation of the Constitution by a government official is a criminal act and should be viewed as such by the citizenry.  In the final analysis, it is the voters who are the judges and juries of criminal acts committed by their officials and if we fail to hold them accountable, we have no one to blame but ourselves.