Jason Hayes

Libertarian thought, policy, religion, the environment, tech, coffee, and Tabasco – the stuff of life
This is my personal blog - the thoughts and ideas expressed here are posted on my own time and are mine and mine alone.

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Quite simply, we’re going broke

This Heritage Foundation article quite rightly describes the following statement as a “sobering” thought.

The federal government could cease all other operations (other than major entitlements), including its core constitutional duty to provide for the national defense, and would still end up in a fiscal hole within a generation.

They also provided the following graphic, which describes how each dollar is spent.

Heritage Foundation - Where did your tax dollar go?

Heritage Foundation – Where did your tax dollar go?

Our never-ending expansion of entitlement programs is crushing our ability to pay for what most Americans consider basic functions of government. It is clearly time for a serious overhaul and a rethinking (by people) of what one can reasonably expect government to provide, but I doubt that the country has the will to do anything serious about this situation.

It seems far more likely that our government will entertain (and eventually implement) programs like confiscating the retirement savings of citizens to “spread the wealth around” before they seriously consider cutting spending. A good example of this is the fact that, in the face of our crushing debt, and the sure knowledge that costs would skyrocket, we have gone ahead with a multi-trillion dollar expansion of public health care costs. We’ve almost doubled our debt in the past 5 years and we’re forging ahead with our tax and spend ways.

The truly unfortunate fact is that we still have an opportunity to stop this train before it reaches the cliff and we are forced to endure a far more wrenching and destructive correction. However, I can’t see that anyone in DC has the stomach for even slowing spending to kick the crash down the road a bit further.

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The Power to Tax

Justice John Marshall

Justice John Marshall (Source: The Supreme Court Historical Society)

 

 

 

“An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”

–John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819

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Milking your neighbors for your home improvements

I think I just confused the poor sales lady from a local solar company. She called to see if I was interested in having solar panels installed on my roof to help decrease my energy costs. According to the prepared text she was reading, I “could reduce my monthly electricity bills by more than half for zero-down!”

She started to ask me if I thought that I spent more or less than $150/month on electricity, but I stopped her there and asked if the program that she was selling relied on government subsidies to make it possible. She replied that, yes, the solar panels she was selling were covered as part of a federally funded program to promote solar energy.

I stopped her again and said that, “As a libertarian, I find it immoral and personally offensive that you are advocating that I steal tax dollars from my neighbors to install new solar panels on my home, just so I can get lower electricity rates.”

Dead silence for about 2-3 seconds and then “… uhhhh …. Oooookaaaay then … I guess …”

Clearly her employer has not created the “how to deal with libertarian objections to the subsidies that keep this business running” card for their telemarketers.

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Not the law of the land

“[S]hould Congress, under the pretext of executing its powers, pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not entrusted to the government, such [acts are] not the law of the land.”

–John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819

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Trey Gowdy on IRS scandal

Difficult to say who is better in this video – Trey Gowdy or Jay Sekulow.

This investigation MUST HAVE an independent special prosecutor appointed. The possibility of corruption and scandal here is inescapable and, if the charges of corruption are found to be true—despite the President’s confident assertion that there is “not a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS—it would be far worse than Watergate or Iran Contra.

This situation needs to be properly and fully investigated.

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Anticapitalism as the source of conflict

It is certainly true that our age is full of conflicts which generate war. However, these conflicts do not spring from the operation of the unhampered market society. It may be permissible to call them economic conflicts because they concern that sphere of human life which is, in common speech, known as the sphere of economic activities. But it is a serious blunder to infer from this appellation that the source of these conflicts are conditions which develop within the frame of a market society. It is not capitalism that produces them, but precisely the anticapitalistic policies designed to check the functioning of capitalism. They are an outgrowth of the various governments’ interference with business, of trade and migration barriers and discrimination against foreign labor, foreign products, and foreign capital.

– Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]

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On the handling of scandals

christie_scandal

No further comment necessary.

Update: Apparently I was wrong. Bernard Goldberg‘s thoughts on this are worth reading.

It’s good to know that President Obama’s most loyal followers – the so-called mainstream media – have their priorities straight.  As reported by the (conservative) Media Research Center:
“In less than 24 hours, the big three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to a traffic scandal involving Chris Christie than they’ve allowed in the last six months to Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service controversy. Since the story broke on Wednesday that aides to the New Jersey governor punished a local mayor’s lack of endorsement with a massive traffic jam, ABC, CBS and NBC have responded with 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage. Since July 1, these same networks managed a scant two minutes and eight seconds for the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.”
Read the full article and consider the media’s stunning hypocrisy on this issue.

I am also consistently amazed that various “isms” are considered appropriate and funny when viewed from the political left. From the ‘in’ group at MSNBC laughing at Mitt Romney’s African-American grandson, to this cartoon depicting a grossly over-inflated Chris Christie sitting on a bridge and blocking traffic. To the political left, it is all funny and open for attack because it attacks an ostensibly conservative politician.

Christie

However, a similar cartoon that targeted a physical disability, weight issues, sexual orientation, religious views, etc. of a left-wing politician would be loudly and universally condemned throughout the media as proof of the inhumanity and insensitivity of the political right.

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Our greatest threat

The greatest threat to the future of our nation — to our freedom — is not foreign military aggression … but the growing dependence of the people on a paternalistic government. A nation is no stronger than its people and the best measure of their strength is how they accept responsibility. There will never be a great society unless the materialism of the welfare state is replaced by individual initiative and responsibility.

- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]

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Mr. Jarvis – you are an embarrassment to all Park Rangers

As a former backcountry ranger, I am ashamed of men like National Park Service (NPS) Director Jarvis, and the NPS personnel who barred access to national parks during the government shutdown.

In the video that I’ve included below, Rep. Trey Gowdy nails a key issue with the park closures. Gowdy asks why the NPS allowed Occupy protestors to “descend on McPherson Square” for over 100 days without so much as a peep, and certainly not a citation, closure sign, or barricade in sight. From October 2011, to February 2012 Occupy protestors defecated on police cars and vandalized public and private property; there were regular reports of robberies, rapes, and assaults in the Occupy camps. However, for more than three months NPS personnel did almost nothing to bar or remove their impromptu edifices and camps.

In contrast, on the very day that President Obama ordered the government shutdown, NPS Director Jarvis (or people in his organization) gave the orders to “make life as difficult for people” as they could. Jarvis ordered the “barrycades” rushed out and began threatening 90-year old WWII veterans with fines and legal action for even approaching the WWII memorial in DC.

It’s bad enough that Rangers played along with the closure orders and barred access to our national parks for the average, taxpaying citizen. Now I am fully aware that bureaucrats hate to hear this, but the citizens who were barred from parks across the country do pay the ranger’s salaries and pay—every day—for the maintenance and upkeep of those parks. Despite this reality, taxpayers were still ordered to stay out of national parks.

It is much worse, however, for park rangers and for people like Mr. Jarvis to bar access to veterans who (as Rep. Trey Gowdy notes in the video below) helped build the monuments they were trying to visit. The reality is that those veterans not only paid for the parks with their taxes, they paid for them with their sweat, their tears, their blood, and their lives. The veterans own those monuments in a way that few others can understand, and Mr. Jarvis’ and NPS personnels’ attempts to “barrycade” them is a disgusting and indecent affront.

If this video and Mr. Jarvis’ responses don’t make your blood boil, it’s time for you to wake up and begin to take part. For those who watch this video and still refuse to wake up or who might actually think Mr. Jarvis was justified, go back to your reality TV and your government check, I’m beginning to believe you’re not worth the effort anymore.

“If ye love wealth better than liberty,
the tranquility of servitude
better than the animating contest of freedom,
go home from us in peace.
We ask not your counsels or your arms.
Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
May your chains set lightly upon you,
and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
— Samuel Adams

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Canada’s socialist neighbour to the south

The Fraser Institute and Cato Institute (along with many other free-market think tanks) have republished their economic freedom ranking for various countries around the world. Sadly, the United States has fallen further in their ranking and free-market thinkers are now justified in questioning whether Canada should start referring to the U.S. as their “socialist neighbour to the south.”

Americans have long dismissed Canadians as “our socialist neighbors to the north.” But since 2005 Canada has been more economically free than the supposed laissez-faire wonderland of the United States—and the gap is widening. …

Economic freedom is defined by the Fraser Institute as “the extent to which you can pursue economic activity without interference from government, as long as your actions don’t violate the identical rights of others.” This ideal is difficult to define, much less quantify, so the index breaks each country’s score into five broad categories: size of government, legal structure and property rights, access to sound money, international free trade, and regulation of credit, labor, and business.

Every country is ranked on a scale of one to ten, with ten being most free. In 2013 the report ranked 152 countries and territories. The Index has data on most going back to 1980. This allows for long-term analyses of what policies caused countries to catch up, or in the case of the United States, fall behind, in economic freedom.

Canada’s policies can serve as an example for policy makers looking to jumpstart U.S. growth. Canada has a federal corporate tax rate of just 15 percent whereas the United States has a top rate of 35 percent, the highest among OECD countries. Canada’s federal debt-to-GDP ratio is 35 percent. It is targeting a ratio of 25 percent by 2021 thanks to a strong commitment to spending cuts from Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The U.S. ratio is 73 percent and rising. Mr. Harper has publicly pushed for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would benefit the economies of both countries, while President Obama has done all he can to block the State Department’s permit. Canada also has an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, lower than America’s.

The increasing gap in economic freedom, the rapid growth of public debt, the push toward socialized health care, increasing burdens of extreme regulatory pressure, and many other factors are a shameful and destructive attack on what once was the most free country on the planet.

It is becoming increasingly clear that true patriots, conservatives, and libertarians need to push to return government to a far more states-oriented, federalist view as a means of returning the country to its founding principles. We need to use the rights of states to act as a constitutional circuit breaker on the growing power of the federal government. Check out the work of groups like the Goldwater Institute for more information on how that can be achieved.

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Purposes merely personal

“It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that the nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it, nay that absolute monarchs, will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for purposes and objects merely personal.”

–John Jay, Federalist No. 4, 1787

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44 years ago today

Today and tomorrow will mark the 44th anniversary of Senator Ted Kennedy’s very active and personal role in the death of Mary Jane Kopechne. Although I haven’t posted this in a few years, I believe it is still worthwhile remembering how the senior Senator from Massachusetts did everything in his power to cover up the facts and to protect himself, after having fled the scene of the accident that he had caused, abandoning Kopechne to die a horrific and prolonged death in his overturned car.

In this post we also continue to recognize how money, power, and the family name allowed Senator Kennedy to avoid any responsibility for his actions. Any other person involved in a similar accident would have been charged with numerous crimes and would have spent several years in jail. Senator Kennedy, however, not only remained free, he continued to posses — over several decades — a level of influence and power that many can only imagine. When he passed, he was remembered as “a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate.”

So we don’t forget how this revered and respected “Lion of the Senate” was able to escape culpability for his role in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, here once again, is the text of my original post from nine years ago.

35 years ago today, Ted Kennedy’s self-absorbed and self-protective actions ensured that the life of one Mary Jo Kopechne was ended. Ted Kennedy fled the scene of an accident that he caused. and in doing so, he left that woman to drown.

Ted Kennedy was too great a coward to help her. He was more worried about his political career and his reputation, so he helped himself, ran away and tried to cover up his actions while she struggled to stay alive by breathing from the rapidly dwindling air pocket in the backseat of the car.

Anyone else would have been jailed for this crime, but thanks to the Kennedy fortune and friends in high places, Teddy not only stayed out of jail, he has been re-elected several times since then.

Teddy’s question a few years later seems especially pertinent at this time

Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?

– Senator Ted Kennedy, 1973
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Trey Gowdy questioning Former IRS Commissioner Shulman

Trey Gowdy is rocking the questioning in this video.

Former IRS Commissioner Shulman demonstrates clearly that he is at the (very) best a completely incompetent moron and at worst was criminally negligent in the performance of his duties at the IRS.

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No ordinary scandal

Peggy Noonan‘s latest WSJ blog post is a blistering attack on the Obama administration’s use of the IRS as a bludgeon to intimidate, censor, and silence political opponents. It is an essential read for anyone interested in policy and politics.

The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists. …

This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function.

Check it out.

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Axelrod has (accidentally) sided with the Tea Party

This video is classic Chicago-style politics. Pass the buck, blame someone else, don’t look behind the curtain, just focus on the spin and everything will be fine.

Sad thing for David Axelrod is that he apparently doesn’t even realize he has just given the Libertarians and the Tea Party their winning 2014 election soundbite. Watch the video; you’ll see.

Yes, you did just hear Axelrod argue that that President Obama can’t possibly be to blame for the IRS scandal (and by logical extension – Benghazi, Fast & Furious, the Justice Department seizing two months of AP phone records, the brewing EPA scandal, etc., etc., etc.) because the government is “so vast” that it is impossible to track what happens in these diverse and sundry bureaucracies.

“So vast” were his words – e’nuf said.

But for those who might have missed the obvious … THAT”S THE WHOLE POINT!!! That’s exactly why supporters of limited government are pushing to have all of this addressed, taxes cut, the bureaucracy limited. Government has passed the point of accountability and effective, efficient, Constitutional service to “we the people.” By Axelrod’s own admission government has become a massive, gaping hole, where responsibility and accountability go to die – along with multiple trillions of our tax dollars.

When pro-big government socialists like Axelrod are openly admitting government is “so vast” that no one can know what it is doing, it really is time to cut budgets on a massive scale.

Via Chicks on the Right

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Perjury in defense of tyranny

“Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.”
–Lysander Spooner

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A seismic shift in the burden of proof from “tinfoil behatted” to the government

I posted yesterday about the gross miscarriages of justice by the “Justice” Department, the IRS, and the State Department. (Of course, I forgot to include the even more overt criminal acts carried out by the Justice Department as part of their Fast and Furious scandal where the federal government effectively supplied thousands of firearms to drug cartels. Those firearms were then directly involved in the death of US Border Guard, Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican citizens.)

Today we are learning that the EPA routinely played politics in their handling of fee waivers for environmental groups and politically conservative groups. The Competitive Enterprise Institute noted today that,

It’s not just the IRS that treats groups on the right differently from the rest. According to documents obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency is in on it too.

Public records produced by EPA in response to a lawsuit filed by CEI under the Freedom of Information Act illustrate a pattern of making it far more difficult for limited-government groups – in particular those who argue for more freedom and less EPA – to access public records. …

EPA routinely grants … fee waivers to its favored left-wing groups who demand a more intrusive and powerful EPA, but systematically denies waivers for groups on the right, according to research compiled by CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner, author of “The Liberal War on Transparency.”

In a review of letters granting or denying fee waivers granted at the “initial determination” stage from January 2012 to this Spring, Horner found green groups, such as the National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and EarthJustice, had their fees waived in 75 out of 82 cases. Meanwhile, EPA effectively or expressly denied Horner’s request for fee waivers in 14 of 15 FOIA requests over this same time.

It seems that many of the federal government bureaucracies are now infested with career employees who feel quite comfortable playing political games with citizens and taxpayers. The actions of these government employees necessarily lead reasonable people to believe that government is working hand in glove with left-wing political and environmental groups to further so-called progressive world views.

When even John Stewart is saying that the partisan, corrupt, and possibly even criminal behavior of these government employees is encouraging the very anti-government mindset that so many progressives have derided as lunatic fringe, you know that it is well past time for Congress to step in and clear up this mess.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Trek: Into Darkness
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Indecision Political Humor The Daily Show on Facebook

Investigations, firings, fines/loss of pensions, and jail time need to become real possibilities for government employees and managers that refuse to follow the Constitution, legislation, and regulations.

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Justice Department seizes AP phone records

I don’t care who you are, who you voted for, what you believe … etc. When you start adding these reports together, it’s time for reasonable people to start asking some serious questions about what is going on in our federal government.

The IRS has admitted to targeting conservative non-profits, and now this article indicates that the IRS may have released the unapproved applications from conservative groups to Propublica, a generally left-leaning news organization. Propublica admits to having published redacted examples of those applications.

Furthermore, the Obama administration abandoned consulate staff in Benghazi and then repeatedly edited their reports and talking points about the Benghazi attack for several weeks, prompting House investigations into their actions. Those investigations are ongoing, while the Obama administration claims they are politically motivated “circus.

To top off the questionable performance of this current administration, we learned today that the Justice Department secretly collected two months of phone records for more than 20 separate Associated Press telephone lines last year.

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

Of course no one should miss the sick irony of this all coming to light a short time after the President told Ohio State students that they should “reject the voices” that warn of government tyranny.

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.

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On statism

The worst of this ever growing cancer of Statism is its moral effect. The country is rich enough to stand its frightful economic wastage for a long time yet, and still prosper, but it is already so poverty-stricken in its moral resources that the present drain will quickly run them out.

- Albert Jay Nock, “Journal of Forgotten Days” [May 28, 1934]
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Is 1984 now?

Great video from Senator Paul. It asks an important question.

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