Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

I'll be back after the New Year.

Where Congress and the NRA Collide, Treasury Sells GM, and More

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THE NRA: The National Rifle Association has a very large board of directors, and two members of Congress are included on the list.

Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young -- who was re-elected with 65 percent of the vote in November -- and Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren -- who will retire after the 112th Congress -- are both members of the NRA's board, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' personal finance data.

In the 2012 election cycle, the NRA's PAC plus individuals employed by the association gave federal candidates almost $720,000. Young received $2,000. In the 2010 cycle, he was given $5,950, and got $10,150 in the 2008 cycle. Extending back to 1990, Young has received $86,600 in contributions from the NRA, and the most he ever raised  in a cycle was $14,850 in the 1992 election.

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Humanity Unbound: How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity

For most of its existence, mankind’s well being was dictated by disease, the elements and other natural factors, and the occasional conflict. Virtually everything it needed—food, fuel, clothing, medicine, transport, mechanical power—was the direct or indirect product of living nature.
Good harvests reduced hunger, improved health, and increased life expectancy and population—until the next inevitable epidemic, crop failure, natural disaster, or conflict. These Malthusian checks ensured little or no sustained growth in population or well-being.

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Has the Fed Been a Failure?

In the aftermath of the Panic of 1907, Congress appointed a National Monetary Commission. In 1910 the Commission published a shelf-full of studies evaluating the problems of the postbellum National Banking system and exploring alternative regimes. A few years later Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act.
Today, in the aftermath of the Panic of 2007, and as the one hundredth birthday of the Federal Reserve System approaches, it seems appropriate to once again take stock of our monetary system. Has our experiment with the Federal Reserve been a success or a failure? Does the Fed's track record during its history merit celebration, or should Congress consider replacing it with something else? Is it time for a new National Monetary Commission?

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Hillary’s Benghazi Report (ARB) Blames Amb. Christopher Stevens

Click here for The Fix is in—Part I and Part II
When government officials like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton self- investigate themselves in ‘internal’ ‘independent’ reviews the truth is always covered up and buried. While you were sleeping on Tuesday night the Obama-Clinton regime did just that when they released a 39-page, unclassified report, an Accountability Review Board (ARB), on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith, a computer expert.

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Replacing Fossil Fuels with Renewables - Part 1

Economic Growth! Energy independence! Climate Change! There are countless arguments for moving beyond fossil fuels, for world energy needs. Unfortunately, many hurdles must be overcome before we can feasibly count on other sources of energy to replace coal, oil and possibly natural gas, which all together provide the lion’s share of the world’s electricity generation and transportation fuels.
Even if there were no greenhouse effect, all of the fossil fuels we rely on will probably be depleted within a few hundred years. If humankind is going to have a future on this planet, at least a high-technology future, it is absolutely inevitable that we’ll have to find an alternate energy pathway.

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What Would Churchill Do?

I looked forward to Tuesday, November 6, 2012 with nervous anticipation. That was the publication date for the long-awaited third volume of William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion. This final installment, subtitled Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, was written mostly by Paul Reid, as Manchester himself was unable to make much headway prior to his death in 2004.
That day also was notable for an electoral setback dealt to those of us who believe in capitalism and limited government. What can we learn from Churchill, who was no stranger to setbacks?  I suggest four lessons that we can apply today:
1.    Speak up clearly.
2.    Pursue glory.  
3.    Trust that the people are stronger than their leaders. 
4.    Seek opportunities for small victories while waiting for the tide to turn in your favor.

Doubts remain over Spain's austerity miracle

Spain has made dramatic strides in cutting labour costs and reviving exports since the debt crisis erupted, turning the country into the new poster-child of Europe’s austerity regime. 

Fresh data from the OECD show that Spain has narrowed the gap in “unit labour costs” with Germany by 5.5pc over the past year alone. It has clawed back 4.6pc against France and 6.6pc against Austria since late 2011, as it slashes pay and pursues a scorched-earth policy of “internal devaluation”.  

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Your Cellphone Is Spying on You

Big Brother has been outsourced. The police can find out where you are, where you’ve been, even where you’re going. All thanks to that handy little human tracking device in your pocket: your cellphone.
There are 331 million cellphone subscriptions—about 20 million more than there are residents—in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of adult Americans carry at least one phone. The phones communicate via a nationwide network of nearly 300,000 cell towers and 600,000 micro sites, which perform the same function as towers. When they are turned on, they ping these nodes once every seven seconds or so, registering their locations, usually within a radius of 150 feet. By 2018 new Federal Communications Commission regulations will require that cellphone location information be even more precise: within 50 feet. Newer cellphones also are equipped with GPS technology, which uses satellites to locate the user more precisely than tower signals can. Cellphone companies retain location data for at least a year. AT&T has information going all the way back to 2008.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Auto Bailout Failure Is Now Complete

You may recall that during the presidential election, the Treasury Department refused requests by General Motors to unload the government's stake in the giant automaker.
Taxpayers had sunk $50 billion into a union bailout in 2009 and were now proud owners of 26.5 percent of the struggling company. Reportedly, GM had growing concerns that the stigma of "Government Motors" was hurting sales in the United States. At the time, any transaction would have come at a steep loss to taxpayers and undermined the president's questionable campaign assertions that the auto union rescue had been a huge success.

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Ludicrous, irresponsible spending is why we're in trouble

Listening to progressive media pundits, I'd think the most evil man in the universe is Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. His crime? He heads a movement that asks political candidates to pledge not to raise taxes.
I think Grover accomplished a lot. But I wish he'd convinced politicians to pledge not to increase spending.
President Obama says raising taxes to cut the deficit is a "balanced" approach.
Balanced ...

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‘Forward’ to the Past?

The political slogan “Forward” served Barack Obama well during this year’s election campaign. It said that he was for going forward, while Republicans were for “going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”
It was great political rhetoric and great political theater. Moreover, the Republicans did virtually nothing to challenge its shaky assumptions with a few hard facts that could have made those assumptions collapse like a house of cards.
More is involved than this year’s political battles. The word “forward” has been a political battle cry on the left for more than a century. It has been almost as widely used as the left’s other favorite word, “equality,” which goes back more than two centuries.

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Sound Money vs. Stable Money

Historically, there have been two contrasting monetary doctrines.
The first doctrine favors what it calls "sound money," defined as money that has a purchasing power determined by markets, independent of governments and political parties. A true gold standard is one example of money that has an intrinsic value determined by markets rather than governments. Note that, under a sound money doctrine's principles, a gold standard where the government sets a fixed price at which it is willing to exchange its currency for gold does not qualify. If the government sets the peg price, the market’s essential role does not occur. So the various “gold price” systems that have existed from time to time (most famously the Bretton Woods system) do not qualify as sound money systems.
The second doctrine favors what it calls "stable money," originally defined as money that is managed so its value does not change, but more recently redefined as money that is managed so its value changes at some fixed, predictable rate. The principles of this doctrine require some authority to "control" the supply of money so fluctuations in the value of money do not create financial disruptions, such as recessions, panics, and deflation. Candidates for the authority to exert this control are always limited to governmental bodies, typically either the finance ministry (the U.S. Treasury, for instance) or an "independent" central bank. The degree of actual independence to be exercised by the central bank is always somewhat ambiguous and frequently is subject to change as circumstances change, but the idea of some level of independence is almost always present.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Senator Bob Corker Responding to your message

Dear Samuel,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the need for fiscal reform. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.
I am deeply concerned about the dire fiscal situation of the United States government and the need to reduce spending. Last year alone we added $1.1 trillion of debt, causing the nation's debt to reach 100% of our GDP. Massive annual deficits are projected for years to come unless we drastically change the spending habits in Washington. Instead of addressing our fiscal problems head on, Congress set up a combination of tax increases and sequestration spending cuts scheduled to occur at the beginning of 2013. 
Because of the seriousness of the situation, I believe that Congress must agree on responsible spending cuts and tax reforms before the end of the year that provide financial certainty to families and businesses and maintain adequate funding levels for key programs. We need pro-growth tax reform along with  implementing a long-term plan to restore solvency to Medicare and Social Security.  These changes would dramatically lower the deficit and  get our economy really moving again.
Kicking the can down the road — setting up a process for token deficit reduction today with the promise of more reforms later as some have suggested — is misguided and irresponsible and shows a total lack of courage. We have had two dry runs over the past two years – through the Simpson-Bowles Commission in 2010 and the so-called "super committee" in 2011. No Congress is better suited to address our long-term fiscal issues than this one. It is our responsibility to solve these problems now.
I have shared with House and Senate leaders as well as the White House a 242-page bill that, along with other agreed-upon cuts that are to be enacted, would produce $4.5 trillion in fiscal reforms and replace sequestration. While I know this bill can be improved, it shows clearly that we can do what is necessary, today, with relatively simple legislation. 
The proposal includes pro-growth federal tax reform, which generates more static revenue — mostly from very high-income Americans — by capping federal deductions at $50,000 without raising tax rates. It mandates common-sense reforms to the federal workforce, which will help bring its compensation in line with private-sector benefits, and implements a chained consumer price index across the government, a more accurate indicator of inflation. 
It also includes comprehensive Medicare reform that keeps in place fee-for-service Medicare without capping growth, competing side by side with private options that seniors can choose instead if they wish. Coupled with gradual age increases within Medicare and Social Security; the introduction of means testing; increasing premiums ever so slightly for those making more than $50,000 a year in retirement; and ending a massive "bed tax" gimmick the states use in Medicaid to bilk the federal government of billions, this reform would put our country on firmer financial footing and begin to vanquish our long-term deficit.
The challenge Congress and the President face isn't one of intellect, aptitude, or time; it's a test of political courage. I will do all I can to convince other elected leaders in Washington to put America on a path to fiscal solvency, unleashing a period of economic growth, job creation and innovation. I remain hopeful that they will place the issues surrounding the fiscal cliff firmly in the rear-view mirror so that we can begin next year focusing on those things that ensure America's greatest days still lie ahead.
Thank you again for your letter. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with me throughout my time serving you in the Senate.


Bob Corker
United States Senator

Obamanomics Strikes Out with Small Business Owners

"Uncertainty in the private sector over taxes and government policy clearly is having an impact on business' ability to invest in the United States. Business investment is lagging – bad news for growth next year."
–Steve Forbes, December 13, 2012, The Washington Times

Small business accounts for half of all the private sector jobs in America, but over the last two decades has created 2 of every 3 new jobs according to the SBA. Small businesses are a font of invention producing 16.5 times more patents per employee than large corporations. Being nimble in the market place, small businesses make up 97.5 percent of all identified U.S. exporters and produce nearly one-third of all export value for our economy.

In America, small business is a big deal.

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Unprecedented Govt Surveillance of U.S. Citizens

Illustrating just how close big brother is watching, the Obama Justice Department has secretly granted the government broad new powers to gather and keep personal information about ordinary U.S. citizens not suspected of any crimes.
 It’s an unprecedented move by any administration that’s outraged even the powerful leftist civil rights groups that usually support the president. The public was kept in the dark as the controversial measure was quietly enacted by Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this year without input or discussion from legislators under the auspice of fighting terrorism.

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Gun Control, Thought Control and People Control

The gun control debate, like all debates with the left, is reducible to the question of whether we are individuals who make our own decisions or a great squishy social mass that helplessly responds to stimuli. Do people kill with guns or does the availability of guns kill people? Do bad eating habits kill people or does the availability of junk food kill people?
To the left these are distinctions without a difference. If a thing is available then it is the cause of the problem. The individual cannot be held accountable for shooting someone if there are guns for sale. Individuals have no role to play because they are not moral actors, only members of a mob responding to stimuli.
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Benghazi Panel Strongly Assails Role of State Dept. in Attack

An independent inquiry into the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans on Sept. 11 sharply criticized the State Department for a lack of seasoned security personnel and for relying on untested local militias to safeguard the compound, according to a report by the panel made public on Tuesday night.
The investigation into the attack on the diplomatic mission and the C.I.A. annex in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans also faulted State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests from the American Embassy in Tripoli for more guards for the mission and for failing to make sufficient safety upgrades. 

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Cardboard Bike to Provide Cheap Transport to Millions

Izhar Gafni, an Israeli engineer had a dream to create a vehicle that could provide cheap, fuel efficient transport to millions of people around the world. His search led him to develop a bicycle made from recycled cardboard.
The bike uses just $9 worth of recycled materials, it is strengthened by multiple folds to the cardboard to the point that it can bear the weight of a 220kg person, and is coated with a resin which provides resistance to water and fire.

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Monsanto’s Roundup Devastating Gut Health, Contributing to Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria

Much of the public forgets the gut when it comes to warding off the flu and other more threatening diseases, but the gut—and its army of beneficial bacteria—are essential in protecting us from harm. That’s why eating genetically modified and/or conventionally farmed food could be a direct assault on your own health. Most recently, research has shown that Monsanto’s herbicide, known as Roundup, is destroying gut health, threatening overall health of animals, people, and the planet significantly.
The journal Current Microbiology recently published a study that caught Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide’s active ingredient, glyphosate, suppressing beneficial bacteria in poultry specimens. Given that gut health is directly linked to chronic illnesses and overall health, this isn’t exactly welcome news for people who can’t always afford or who lack access to organic, locally grown food.

Six Degrees of Military Spending

The Department of Defense, with its 2.3 million workers, is the single largest employer in the United States. The defense industry, which is the main private-sector recipient of defense dollars, directly or indirectly employs another 3 million people. This, in a nutshell, is why it’s so hard to cut government spending in general and military spending in particular.

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Lockouts and Fiscal Cliffs

With our nation sliding ever closer to the fiscal cliff, President Obama and Speaker Boehner are engaged in a dangerous kabuki dance of political brinksmanship once again, with economic chaos waiting in the wings. They seem to have reached an impasse that might lead to a Thelma and Louise launch off the cliff for all of us.
Then again, it all sounds so very familiar: the blame game and finger pointing and accusations of failures to “reach out” for a middle ground, to bargain in good faith. As Yogi would say, it’s like déjà vu all over again. Yet another replay round of Groundhog Day from the debt ceiling brinksmanship of just last summer.

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Unions Defend the Worst of the Worst

When hundreds of Connecticut nursing-home workers went on strike this summer, some committed “alarming, malicious events of apparent sabotage . . . that placed the health of many residents in immediate danger,” according to legal testimony to the United States District Court of Connecticut.
Some of the workers even endangered the lives of elderly patients, but now, their union allies are fighting to get them their old jobs back. This case is no exception: In both the private and the public sector, unions protect the jobs of all their members, even those who have done something wrong, inappropriate, dangerous, or criminal. 

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Prescription for Trouble

Abuse of prescription narcotics remains one of America’s fastest growing drug problems. But rates of illicit use of some prescription opioids like OxyContin — drugs that have been subject to the most rampant abuse — are finally starting to decline.
Stepped-up enforcement against illegal diversion is one reason. More significant are changes in the medicines themselves. New technologies make the drugs less prone to manipulation and therefore much less likely to be used illegally in the first place.
Some of the most widely abused drugs, including OxyContin, have been re-engineered in tamper-resistant formulations and introduced in place of their original versions. Rates of abuse have fallen sharply as a consequence.

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On Social Security, A Divided Democratic Party

Democratic Party leaders on Tuesday signaled a willingness to accept an adjustment to Social Security benefits that New York Times’ columnist and amateur psychohistorian Paul Krugman has called “cruel and stupid.”
The adjustment, known as chained CPI, would save about $130 billion by changing the way Social Security benefit increases are calculated and ultimately slow their rate of growth over time.
Obama reportedly offered the adjustment as part of his most recent proposal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
Liberals were not pleased.

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FEMA Housing Sought for Hurricane Sandy Victims

More than 100 demonstrators stood outside Mayor Michael Bloomberg's house last weekend, urging him to send FEMA trailers to Hurricane Sandy victims suffering through winter weather.
     New York City has fixed 1,200 homes damaged by Sandy, but more than 11,000 families' homes still need repairs, according to ABC News.
     Many families still are without heat or electricity, and have not been able to take shelter in the "hundreds and hundreds" of FEMA vehicles collecting dust in a lot in Cumberland, Md., ABC reported last week.

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Top 10 New Energy Technologies of 2012

Without a doubt, the most exciting part about covering the happenings in the energy world has little to do with the industry's ills. It's easy to get caught up in the oil spills, rig explosions, lawsuits and arguments over fossil fuels' impact on the environment. But in the big picture, it's more important to look at the way “energy” is rapidly evolving with each and every year.
Some of the most ingenious entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers of our time can be found working passionately in this field, creating technologies most critical to the survival of our planet and mankind's ability to thrive in a tech-based world. In the process, entirely new industries are being developed with ideas to tap new sources of power that are literally out of this world.

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Redistribution as Slavery

The idea that we should take from those who have and give to those who don't is viewed as proper and just among liberals. In fact, if you do not subscribe to redistribution ideology, you are attacked as being greedy at best and racist at worst. The problem is that income redistribution in practice promotes one of the same moral injustices found under slavery. As Thomas Sowell put it: "Not since the days of slavery have there been so many people who feel entitled to what other people have produced as there are in the modern welfare state."

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The Most Absurd 'Loophole' in the Tax Code

And I mean absurd in the most literal sense. We all know that the U.S. tax code is riddled with "loopholes", exemptions and deductions intended to incentivize certain activities. Many of these are of dubious provenance and questionable utility. But, there is one that is particularly ridiculous. As in, how can this possibly be thought of as a loophole? But, to the technocrats in the federal government, the tax you don't have to pay on the value of rent you don't have to pay because you own your home is a loophole.

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Benghazi report could tarnish Clinton’s legacy

The Benghazi report released Tuesday night bemoans “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” in Hillary Clinton's State Department that could come back to haunt her should she run for president in 2016.
Clinton remains one of the nation's most popular politicians and has worked tirelessly to improve America's image abroad following President George W. Bush's tenure. The independent review of the Sept. 11 attack, however, tarnishes that legacy by faulting the department for failing to put in place a coordinated approach for handling security, even if it does not single anyone out for disciplinary action.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Senator John Kerry Sold His Soul to Be Secretary of State

U.S. Ambassador positions are for sale to the highest bidder. This unsavory policy, which accelerated under President Bill Clinton, continues under President Barack Obama. For the past four years Senator John Kerry has sought to curry favor from the Obama Administration by rubber-stamping this corrupt practice. As Chairman of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, he has also ignored criminal waste within USAID and gross mismanagement within the State Department. Oversight of the State Department has virtually ceased to exist. None of that matters because the prize that Senator Kerry seeks is an appointment as Secretary of State. He has sold his soul for a chance at fame and publicity.

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Don't Believe the Gasoline Hype

Retail gasoline prices in some U.S. markets are expected to approach the $3.00 per gallon mark by the end of the year. Declining oil prices, coupled with a series of encouraging economic figures, have helped ease prices at the pump for American drivers in time for the busy holiday season. This year saw seasonal anomalies brought on by hurricanes, refinery outages and geopolitical issues. The Christmas miracle of cheap gasoline, however, was anticipated by the U.S. Energy Department early last month, suggesting it’s no miracle at all.

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U.S. policy gridlock holding back economy? Maybe not

Washington thinks a resolution of the tense debate over the national debt will unlock a burst of economic growth by lifting uncertainty that has stymied investment.
It is a widely held view on Wall Street as well, derived from the glaring signs of weak business confidence over the last year as America struggles to get its fiscal house in order.
However, evidence for this belief is far from clear and is an issue of considerable debate, and even some businesses wonder how big a factor uncertainty is.

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The Tea Party and the Debt Ceiling vs. Economic Growth

The Tea Party faction of Republicans is not a bashful bunch. Arguably misguided, but definitely not bashful.
In 1773, participants in the Boston Tea Party disguised themselves as Mohawks, then made their point to the British crown by throwing cargo overboard ships. Today, 240 years later, the Tea Party Republicans are taking a modified approach: they aren't using disguises, and they are making their point to the Obama administration by threatening to sink the ship.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), a member of the Tea Party Caucus, provided a recent example in an interview about the fiscal cliff: "As far as… the weapon we have, it’s the debt ceiling." In other words, refusing to raise the debt ceiling is the Tea Party’s threat. Actually following through on that threat would be the political equivalent of detonating a suicide vest (as I said previously in “How to Fix the Debt Ceiling”). Rep. Gohmert and the Tea Party Caucus aren't alone; ominously, Senators McConnell and Corker have recently picked up on the debt-ceiling-as-leverage theme.

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Fiscal cliff deal emerging — including one-year debt-ceiling increase

I didn’t believe this when I saw it at WaPo yesterday, then I started to wonder when I read Ed’s post this morning, and now Ezra Klein claims Democrats are telling him the same thing. I thought the GOP’s big Plan B alternative to a grand bargain was to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, let them lapse for the rich, and then go home so that they can fight another day when it’s time to raise the debt ceiling again in the spring. The automatic tax hikes on January 1 have deprived them of leverage in this negotiation, but they’ll have more once that’s over with and the debt ceiling is all that’s left on the table.

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Society Is Crumbling Right In Front Of Our Eyes And Banning Guns Won’t Help

What in the world is happening to America?  I have written many articles about how society is crumbling right in front of our eyes, but now it is getting to the point where people are going to be afraid to go to school or go shopping at the mall.  Just consider what has happened over the past week.  Adam Lanza savagely murdered 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  42-year-old Marcus Gurrola threatened to shoot innocent shoppers and fired off more than 50 rounds in the parking lot of Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach, California.  After police apprehended him, he told them that he “was unhappy with life”.  Earlier in the week, a crazy man wearing a hockey mask and armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on the second floor of a mall in Happy Valley, Oregon.  He killed two people and injured a third.  On Saturday morning, a lone gunman walked into a hospital in Alabama and opened fire.  He killed one police officer and two hospital employees before being gunned down by another police officer.  So have we now reached the point where every school, every mall and every hospital is going to need armed security?  How will society function efficiently if everyone is constantly worried about mass murderers?

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FBI Crime Stats: You are more likely to be killed by hands and feet than by a shotgun or rifle

The FBI has released their 2007-2011 “Murder Victims by Weapon” report. The results are contradictory to anti-gun industry claims that relaxing the ban on assault weapons will cause more crime. The report indicates you are more likely to be killed by hands or feet than by a rifle or shotgun. Since 2007 there has been a 16.2% decline in murders committed with personal weapons which are defined as “hands, fists, feet etc.” The number of murders of this type in 2011 totaled 728. While gun ownership has dramatically increased since 2007, murders for both the shotgun and rifle categories have...

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Reply from Congressman Chuck Fleischmann

Dear  Samuel :
Thank you for contacting me about the upcoming fiscal cliff facing Americans. Your comments and concerns are greatly appreciated and it is an honor to serve you in Congress.
As you   know, a decision  must be made   on the future of the American economy   and time is running out.   Recently, t he Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported   that consequences of a   fiscal cliff could drive the U.S. economy back into recession ,   increasing   the unemployment rate to 9.1% by December 2013.   According to their calculations,   both our   Gross Domestic Product (GDP and job markets could be impr oved by extending current tax rates.
  As your Congressman, I have been actively seeking the most credible method of fixing our finances .  The simple fact is that we have a spending problem and not a revenue problem.  In 2012, the budget deficit was $1.32 trillion, or a little over $4000 for every man, woman, and child in the United St ates.  This is a massive and unsustainable number.  W hatever revenue increas es President Obama intends will do little to change this dynamic.  That is why we must address the spending side.  Simply put, we need real, enforceable and permanent spending cuts before we even consider revenue.
Again, thank you for your concerns about this important decision. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of any further assistance to you in the future.  


Chuck Fleischmann
Member of Congress

IMF May Be on Collision Course with Trade Policy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has officially endorsed an “institutional view” on the management of capital flows. Henceforth the IMF will advise nations, under certain circumstances, to deploy capital controls on inflows and outflows of capital.  The IMF is aware that such advice may conflict with obligations that nations have under trade and investment treaties, and recommends that such treaties be reformed.

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Eurozone crisis as it happened:: Merkel warns 2013 will be 'tough' as Summit ends with little progress

It's the last day of the final European Council meeting of 2012, with leaders gathering in Brussels again today to discuss the crisis - and the route forwards.
Overnight, progress has been made towards a stronger Economic and Monetary Union. Leaders endorsed the banking supervision deal hammered out by their finance ministers this week, and also agreed a "roadmap" for the currency union.

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Boehner Offers Obama Tax Rate Boost If Entitlements Cut

House Speaker John Boehner offered to raise income tax rates on households earning more than $1 million a year in exchange for containing the cost of federal entitlement programs, as part of a deal with President Barack Obama to cut the federal deficit, according to two people familiar with the talks.
The offer, made in a Dec. 14 phone call between the two leaders, marks the first time Boehner has entertained an increase in income tax rates in his talks with Obama to avoid more than $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and across- the-board tax increases set to start next month.

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Laws and More Laws

Congress regularly passes Laws of Unintended Consequences, then scrambles around to try to fix them. Out in the real world, human nature creates its own laws, most of them immutable. For example:
The Law of Telephone Book White Pages
The name you are looking for will not be in the telephone book. Or, if it is, no address will be listed.

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Kathleen the Terrible

Among the gifts Nancy Pelosi brings to the House of Representatives is her ability to draw a hearty guffaw from the most jaded observer of American politics. This talent for comedy was on display last Wednesday when she told a group of toadeaters disguised as journalists that she belongs to the anti-corruption party. The Orwellian absurdity of the claim, combined with her trademark vapid expression, was enough to make a cat laugh. I do, however, wish C-SPAN would flash some sort of warning on the screen when the former Speaker is about to deliver one of these howlers. That one caught me unawares with a mouth full of coffee and I had to spend the next ten minutes cleaning off my keyboard and monitor.

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Leading on Entitlement Reform

Democrats in Washington declare that they will absolutely, positively allow no changes whatever in the nation’s unsustainable entitlement programs — Social Security and Medicare.
But out in the states, politicians of both parties aren’t averting their gaze from impending fiscal crises. They are working to change policies that have put state governments on an unsustainable trajectory.
The most obvious example was the passage of a right-to-work law last week in Michigan, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union. Passage of the law was retaliation for an attempted power grab by both the UAW and public-sector unions — Proposition 2, which would have enshrined collective bargaining in the state constitution.

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Depending on Energy, Not Energy Independent

'Energy independence' has... become a prized bit of meaningful-sounding rhetoric that can be tossed out by candidates and political operatives eager to appeal to the broadest cross-section of voters. When the U.S. achieves energy independence... America will be a self-sufficient Valhalla, with lots of well-paying manufacturing jobs that will come from producing new energy technologies.... When America arrives at the promised land of milk, honey, and super-cheap motor fuel, then U.S. soldiers will never again need visit the Persian Gulf, except, perhaps, on vacation.—Robert Bryce
Energy independence. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? If you think so, you’re not alone, because energy independence has been the dream of American presidents for decades, and never more so than in the past few years, when the most recent oil price shock has been partly implicated in kicking off the great recession.

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Michigan’s adoption of right-to-work legislation may spark chain reaction

Michigan’s adoption of right-to-work reforms could have a domino effect in the heavily unionized Rust Belt, according to political observers across the region.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder had said passing right-to-work legislation, which prohibits forcing employees to join unions as a condition of employment, was not a major part of his agenda when he ran for Michigan governor in 2010. But the state’s dire economic condition—850,000 jobs left the state between 2001 and 2010—along with Indiana’s move to become the Rust Belt’s first right-to-work state drove the Republican governor to push labor reforms through the legislature on Tuesday.

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Nursing Home Union Brawl

Several Connecticut nursing homes have appealed a federal judge’s order to rehire striking union members, some of whom allegedly mixed up the medical records and identification materials of patients during a labor dispute.
“Returning the striking SEIU members to the workplace would expose residents to the very people who sought to do them harm during the July 3 walkout,” said Lisa Crutchfield, a spokeswoman for HealthBridge Management Health Care Centers.

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Clinton won't testify on Benghazi due to illness

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won't testify to Congress next week on Benghazi, after fainting and suffering a concussion Saturday and due to her ongoing stomach ailment.
"While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines said in a statement. "She has been recovering at home and will continue to be monitored regularly by her doctors. At their recommendation, she will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with Department and other officials. She is looking forward to being back in the office soon."

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Federal Government is Guilty Accomplice in School Shooting in Newtown Connecticut

This shooting is yet another tragic example of the failed, grotesque insistence on helpless victim zones where any crazed gunman can be assured of a large number of disarmed, undefended, helpless victims, all crammed into one place, where he can kill many children before an armed defender arrives from elsewhere.  It is disturbing and sick that the federal government so hates the right of the American people to bear arms, and so hates their natural right to self defense, that the government insists on making them helpless, disarmed victims for anyone who cares to kill them.   And in this case, all of the teachers and staff were willfully disarmed by the Federal Government, by force of law and threat of prison, to ensure that they would be disarmed and incapable of saving the lives of the children entrusted to their care.

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So Much for Background Checks, Lanza’s Guns Were Bought By His Mother

All the regulations that are meant to prevent “tragedies like these” from happening don’t really work that well. Like most prohibitionist efforts, they are limited by the practical matter of human cleverness. People can and do find ways around most regulations if they really want to. A wall of regulations cannot stop a killer. Only armed people can stop an armed man.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation says the three guns found at the shooting site were legally purchased by Nancy Lanza, the mother of the suspect in the shooting.

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States with No Income Tax Grow Faster and Create More Jobs

One of the key ways of controlling state and local tax burdens, according to this map from the Tax Foundation, is to not have an income tax.
But that’s not too surprising. States have just a couple of ways of generating significant tax revenue, so it stands to reason that states without an income tax would have relatively low tax burdens.

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America’s Growing Government Class

The latest unemployment figures are again depressing, but not for the usual reasons. They provide further confirmation of Barack Obama’s fundamental transformation of America, specifically through his creation of a growing government class.
The numbers show a massive increase in government jobs created over the last five months—621,000, to be exact, dwarfing private-sector job growth. Those new government jobs account for a staggering 73 percent of overall job growth. In all, 21 million citizens now work for government, out of 143 million employed in America, or one in seven Americans.

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Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans

In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

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U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens

Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.
Not everyone was on board. "This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public," Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.
A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Okay To Spy On Everybody Says Obama Administration

The Obama administration overruled recommendations from within the US Department of Homeland Security and implemented new guidelines earlier this year that allow the government to gather and analyze intelligence on every single US citizen.
Since the spring, a little-know intelligence agency outside of Washington, DC has been able to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and conduct dragnet surveillance of the entire country, combing massive datasets using advanced algorithms to search and seize personal info on anyone this wish, reports the Wall Street Journal this week.

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'Everyone in US under virtual surveillance' - NSA whistleblower

The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.
Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called 'Naris.'

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Commerce secretary: Return $544K in fish fines

The acting U.S. Commerce Secretary on Friday ordered federal regulators to return about $544,000 in unjust fines collected from 14 fishermen or fishing businesses, most of whom worked Northeast waters.
Secretary Rebecca Blank also directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to forgive two other complainants a combined $150,000 in debt.
Her decisions followed the second phase of a lengthy probe into charges by New England fishermen of abusive, unfair treatment by the officers and attorneys who enforce the nation's fishing laws.

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How to remove a computer virus

Computer viruses are the most dreaded inhabitants of the digital world! Here's how to kill them dead. Visit my security center for more detailed tips: 

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Abraham Lincoln, Stepfather of Our Country

Indeed, it would not seem a safe time to critique the wisdom, motivations, and character of Abraham Lincoln. Steven Spielberg’s reverential motion picture epic Lincoln fills screens across America. The public increasingly accepts him as America’s greatest leader. Academics from the Left — and Right — compete to bestow the grandest laurels on the 16th president.

Yet, such a pursuit is ever more important for a people hurtling forward into an uncertain future, to learn from past mistakes or merely become aware they made them. One growing consensus regarding Lincoln seems credible: He has exerted more influence over the development of this nation than any other person, including the Founders. If Washington be the father of our country, surely Lincoln is its stepfather.

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Public Education

Much has been written about the state of our public education system.  In some school districts there are schools which do a respectable job but many, many more that do not.  A mountain of evidence documents that even those doing a respectable job educating our children engage in subtle "teaching" of subject matter most of us would object to if only we were aware.  Anyway, this article addresses the deficiencies of our education system and the fact that for the sake of our kids and our country's future it needs a serious do over.  George

145,000 pages of federal regulations on the books

The current pile of 145,000 pages of federal rules and regulations are not nearly enough.  To make sure all goes well for us and the country the government and its thousands of well meaning bureaucrats have determined many more are needed.  They are quite certain that without their guiding hand things would run off the rails.  That's why they are dumping lots more of then on us over the next several months.  For good and just reasons, I am sure, details of what, who and how they will impact us were delayed until after the election.  But, no fear, we can rest assured that whatever their impact they will improve our quality of life, protect the innocent and invigorate our moribund economy.  George


TOP-10 "Only In America " Observations

Subject: A Canadian's version of Letterman's Top 10
How true and how sad! At least somebody gets it.
TOP-10 "Only In America " Observations

1) Only in America , could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a
$35,000.00 a plate campaign fund-raising event.

2) Only in America , could people claim that the government still
discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a
black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black
while only 12% of the population is black.

3) Only in America , could they have had the two people most responsible for
our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the Treasury Department and
Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to
be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

4) Only in America , can they have terrorists kill people in the name of
Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be
harmed by the backlash.

5) Only in America , would they make people who want to legally become
American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of
thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting anyone who
sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens.

6) Only in America , could the people who believe in balancing the budget and
sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."

7) Only in America , could you need to present a driver's license to cash a
check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

8) Only in America , could people demand the government investigate whether
oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when
the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company ( Marathon Oil) is
less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

9) Only in America , could the government collect more tax dollars from the
people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a Trillion dollars
more than it has per year - for total spending of $7-Million PER MINUTE, and
complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

10) Only in America , could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes
- be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any
income taxes at all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How America got to its current state

By George Burns

For some time now I have been wondering about how America got to its current state: a miserable economy, rising costs, increased homelessness, rising poverty, moral decay, a seemingly endless list of businesses going out of business, job losses, housing crisis, decaying urban centers, growing government payments to more and more citizens, looming national financial collapse, etc.. More and more there is a sense of helplessness felt by many.  What caused this misery to come about?  The following nine items by no means capture the full extent of reasons but, I believe, are major contributors.  See if you agree.
1.  Real property ownership.  Government zoning ordinances have steadily grown since the Supreme Court declared zoning constitutional in 1921.  Property usage is subject to government restrictions/permissions.  Government taxes are levied for land/home sales/purchases.  Property owner taxes prevent outright ownership since the government can seize private property if taxes are not paid or if it is condemned and subsequently seized by the government under imminent domain provisions.  Because of all the mandatory fees and taxes levied on property owners by the government, true ownership is a myth.  Property owners are in reality renting their property from the government with the government using the taxes/fees collected for public purposes.  Examples of questionable government exercise of imminent domain are at the third link just below.
2.  Progressive income tax.  The onset of worldwide conflicts in the early 20th century caused a decline in funds derived from tariff payments.  Tariffs were, up until that time, the federal government's primary source of income and had the effect of containing government size and spending within Constitutionally established bounds.  Losing its source of income and dissatisfied with constitutional restraints on spending the government went in pursuit of additional revenue.  Ratification of the 16th Amendment enabled congress to pass the Revenue Act of 1913 which implemented the progressive federal income tax system in place ever since.  Before 1913 taxation policy was restrained, as the founders intended, and provided "uniform and equal protection of the law for all citizens".  With passage of the Revenue Act of 1913, that Constitutional intent was thwarted and the seeds of class warfare were sown.  The full flower of that reality is on display during election cycles and routine tax and budget fights in Washington.  This does not mean there is no need for tax resources to conduct legitimate government business.  But, taxation powers should be limited to conducting legitimate/Constitutional  government duties; not enabling the government to manipulate those powers for its own self-conceived and political purposes.  Having the ability to manipulate the tax code gives government unfettered access to funds rightfully the property of private citizens.  Failure to pay, on government demand, results in incarceration or fines, or both.  Of course income, property and inheritance taxes (next item) are not all the taxes Americans must pay.  See the second link below for some eye-opening details. 
 3.  Inheritance rights.  Various state and federal estate tax laws encumber the ability of property owners (for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts valued at $5.1 million or more) to transfer their property in whole or in part to whom they choose after death or as a gift prior to death.  Darien B. Jacobson, Brian G. Raub, and Barry W. Johnson tell us what is included in this taxation process: "Stamp taxes or duties, are taxes on the recordation of legal documents such as wills. Estate taxes are excise taxes on the privilege of transferring property at death and are usually graduated based on the size of the decedent’s entire estate. An inheritance or legacy tax is an excise tax levied on the privilege of receiving property from the decedent. These taxes are usually graduated based on the amount of property received by each beneficiary and on each beneficiary’s relationship to the decedent."  So, taxes were paid by the decedent on the property while alive and it gets taxed again as a consequence of death.  Note the usage of the words "privilege of receiving property" in the context of government taxing the inheritors of a decedent's property - the obvious assumption government makes is that "it", not the deceased, is extending property rights to beneficiaries.  Prior to senate passage of  S3412 estimates for 2012 were that only 0.0015 percent of small businesses with farms valued less than $5 million would be impacted.  However, "if President Obama and Senate Democrats do not act, the federal government will begin taking more than half the value of family farm estates exceeding $1 million beginning next year. This summer, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats passed legislation (S.3412) on a party-line vote that allows Washington to take up to 55 percent, a huge increase over today's top rate of 35 percent, and drop the tax's exemption from $5.1 million to $1 million. The lower exemption -- combined with soaring farm real estate values -- could put more than 420,000 additional farm estates at risk from the death tax."(see link four)  Government death/inheritance taxation of personal property whatever the case should never occur.  The government did nothing to make the farm productive; it has no right to take more than 50% of its value from those who did. This item relates to item numbers 1 and 2.
 4. Confiscation of property.  This regards the government's exercise of personal property seizures through dubious or erroneous charges of violation of law or regulations. 
These laws and regulations permit several government agencies such as the IRS, OSHA, EPA, Drug enforcement agencies and the BLM to confiscate property from citizens deemed to be "rebels', whatever that means. Examples of illegal government seizures are provided in the second link below.  It is different from but related to dubious government seizures under imminent domain provisions mentioned in item 1.  In addition, the government for many years has been using taxpayer monies to fund land purchases which have the effect of removing property from public tax rolls, exacerbating already stressed local, state and federal resources (see the third link below).  As of this writing the government owns about 30% of the nation's land and seeks more (see third link below). 

5. Government sanctioned centralized credit.  With the establishment of the Federal Reserve System (FED) in 1913 congress handed over its Constitutional responsibilities for managing the nation's monetary supply/policy to a private corporation owned by the nation's largest banks.   In collaboration with both congress and the administration, the FED creates money out of thin air, lends the money to the government and collects the principal and interest from American taxpayers.  When established its purposes were threefold:  maintain maximum employment, stabilize prices and maintain stable interest rates. Additional responsibilities have since been added, among them regulating banks and maintaining the stability of the nation's financial system.  With respect to its first mission, the last several years affirm it has failed.  Likewise its second mission.  Regarding the third, since the FED was created the dollar's purchasing power has declined as much as 96 percent.  Notwithstanding what the government or the FED says this is a consequence of printing far too much money which debases the dollar.  Translated that means inflation has robbed us of the dollar's value.  I am 69 years old and remember as a kid going to the movies for 25 cents. Another example: a $100 bill at the end of the 20th century would buy less than a $20 bill would buy in 1960.  As to how well the FED has regulated the banking industry and sustained a stable financial system, as recent years demonstrate more failures.  As of this writing our national debt is more than $16.2 trillion.  Debt ceiling management is a debacle.  It was originally established by law as a mechanism to control government spending.  However, congress cleared that barrier years ago, enabling the government in collaboration with the FED to borrow and spend with abandon. Unhappy with the fights in congress every time we near the debt ceiling, the president has requested congress turn over its management to him despite the fact that during his tenure the national debt has grown by $4 billion per day, $170 million per hour, $2.8 million per minute.  During his first term the debt will have increased more than $5 trillion.  In contrast during his predecessor's full 8 year term, as bad as it was, the debt rose by an unacceptable $4.899 trillion.  Providing any president sole control over the debt ceiling would vest far too much power in a single individual.  It should be patently obvious that the cozy relationship between the federal government and the privately owned FED has been and remains a very bad idea.  It, in fact, is a root cause of our current fiscal troubles.  History documents the disasters that follow when nations have instituted central banks (like the FED).  
Consider these words:  “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”  Thomas Jefferson
Another quote:   The establishment of a central bank [FED] is 90% of communizing a nation.”  Lenin

6.  Ccommunications and transportation.   There is little doubt that central coordination of vital national infrastructure is an essential function best overseen by the federal government.  Hence the functions performed by the FCC, DOT, ICC, FAA among others.  However, how far should government functions reach?  The drawbacks to the current level of federal involvement are well documented but far too detailed for this limited look.  Here is a very brief snapshot.
Communications.  On 6 June 2012 the president signed an Executive Order entitled "Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions".  It enables the executive branch to control communications "under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies and improve national resilence."  This sounds good but it represents a presidential assignment of these functions to himself, the details and limits of which are best established by the legislative branch, the people's representatives.  The president is an executive, not a legislator.   In addition, various civil libertarian organizations express concerns that it (along with existing powers either self assumed or authorized by law) grants too much latitude for the government to breech privacy rights and civil liberties (see first link below).
Transportation.  Transportation functions are, likewise, an item warranting federal government attention.  However, the extent to which it should be involved is a matter of debate.  It stands to reason that establishment of nationwide highway, railway, waterway and bridge standards as well as construction and maintenance inspections are legitimate functions.   But, for example, control over federal fuel taxation, as with most taxes,  provides the federal government the opportunity to divert those assets to whatever cause it chooses, away from its very purpose of supporting transportation infrastructure.  Just one small consequence of inefficient government control is requiring taxpayers, in 2011 alone, to subsidize Amtrak $68,477 for food service losses multiplied by the total of all their food-service employees.  For a detailed discussion of ground transportation see the fourth link below.  Aviation transportation infrastructure is likewise an area in which there is considerable evidence of inefficient and ineffective control by federal, state and local governments.  Government involvement in setting and maintaining relevant construction, maintenance and safety standards of both airport facilities and aircraft are legitimate. As the fifth link below suggests turning over most aviation transportation functions to private industry (the same applies to ground and water transportation) would improve efficiency and cost effectiveness of aviation transportation. The consequence of absolute government control is a drag on the economy. The federal government has a vast, powerful and expensive communications and transportation bureaucratic infrastructure in place exercising control over these functions and is unlikely to relinquish any of it's authority no matter the benefits.  Further, there are a plethora of executive orders signed by presidents past and present demonstrating intent to maintain control.  In addition to the executive order cited above, here are a few more examples:
EO 10990 allows the Government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports. EO 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels, and minerals. EO 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision EO 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons. EO 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft. EO 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate and establish new locations for populations. EO 11005 allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways, and public storage facilities.

7.  Manufacturing and Agriculture
Manufacturing has long been one of the driving components of the American economy.  That position is increasingly in peril; while approximately 12 million jobs remain, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs were lost over the past decade.  There are a number of reasons for the decline.  Here is a list of a few:  improvements in productivity, technological advances, overseas competition, cheap oversees labor, ill-advised trade policies and a poorly trained/educated labor force.  At least one other warrants special consideration: government tax and regulatory policy. 
Government tax and regulatory policy.  While precisely measuring corporate tax rates is tricky it is generally accepted to be between 28% and 35%. The 35% rate would make American corporate taxes the highest in the world.  While opinions differ about the impacts of taxes, a recent poll offers insights into today's manufacturing/business climate from those in the trenches.  The next paragraph is lifted from the poll's executive summary (full reading is available at the third link below).  
"Manufacturers told us the reasons they would not start a business today:
Regulations at the federal, state, and local levels are too numerous and too costly;
The economy is not doing well, and small business owners face uncertainty as to whether or not it will improve soon;
Taxes are too high; and,
The costs of many factors, including health care, fuel, and workers’ compensation, have skyrocketed."
Associated with this discussion is the extent to which government is in control of private enterprise.  In his book, The Business End of Government,  Dan Smoot documents that the federal government owns 1165 different businesses such as the heavily subsidized US Postal Service, AMTRAC, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  With implementation of Obamacare, the government will effectively control the health care industry, one sixth of the nation's economy.
Agriculture.  The agricultural industry is under extensive government control.  It started when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Agricultural Adjustment Act into law creating the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) which regulated agricultural production by destroying crops and artificially controlling supplies (historians debate whether that was a good or bad thing).  The AAA also launched the continuing practice of taxpayer funded farm subsidies.  Another of many examples not covered here is the implementation of the National Animal Identification System over the past several years which gives government the ability to monitor growers, animals and feed crops.  While it is certainly a good thing for government to assure remotely grown and massively produced agricultural products are safe for consumers, extant practices are excessive and applied unfairly.  To illustrate the point big farms are not subject to expensive individual ID animal implants, tags, etc. required of small farmers.  This is a consequence of big government protecting big farmer interests based on heavy lobbying for regulations in their favor and large taxpayer subsidies, to the exclusion of small family owned farms.  Indeed, with support from the Farmers Home Administration, food processing companies are creating conglomerates by buying up farms facing foreclosure.  Also, The Guardian recently pointed out that "Two-thirds of food for the billion-dollar US food aid programme last year was bought from just three US-based multinationals.  The main beneficiaries of the programme, billed as aid to the world's poorest countries, were the highly profitable and politically powerful companies that dominate the global grain trade: ADM, Cargill and Bunge."  Lastly, it is appropriate to note that the vast majority of cases of contaminated food products harming consumers come from big farms and food processing plants, not small/local farms (related commentary is at the next to last link below).  Small farms are local, big farms are national/global. This does not mean to denigrate the innovations and efficiencies large farms generate.  But, customers of local farms/markets know from whom and what they are getting.  Not so for consumers of products from large farms or food processors.  Besides, if consumers don't like or trust one local source they find another. Bad business practices at the local level means the business either mends its ways or it goes out of business - an example of customers rule vs government rule at work.  One of many examples of how government chokes out small food businesses is at the last link below. This item also relates to item 3 above as applied to small farms.

8. Union labor.  For a whole host of well documented reasons labor unions were a powerful force for good during their heyday in the first half of the last century.  They were vibrant up until the mid-1900s but since then have been in a slow decline.  Throughout their history their power and influence has waxed and waned largely based on the nature of prevailing federal labor laws.  As of 2009 The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that for the first time the number of public sector employees (7.9 million) surpassed private sector employees (7.4 million).  So today's Union members are more likely to be public school teachers, librarians, policemen and firefighters funded by tax payers than carpenters, plumbers or electricians funded by union imposed on private industry workers.  Attitudes regarding labor unions have always differed with strong supporters for and against them.  A limited summary of a few reasons for these differences are found in links 1-3 below.  One informed writer on this subject recently wrote:  "While I do not care for unions at all, and never have, at least with private unions, someone other than corrupt politicians buying votes is bargaining at the other end of the table.  In the case of public unions, if politicians strike a bad deal, taxpayers foot the bill. In the case of private corporations, if management strikes a bad deal, the company goes bankrupt, shareholders take a hit, or the jobs move elsewhere, as soon as the contract is up.  Except in few cases every now and again, private unions just cannot seem to understand this simple economic fact."  See the full article at the fourth link below.  This segues us to public employee unions.  President Franklin Roosevelt, a strong advocate for private industry unions, declared that "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."  His reasoning was that "Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable."  Even George Meany, first president of the AFL-CIO, believed it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."  Nonetheless, public unions now exist and are playing havoc with the budgets of local and state governments, as well as the federal government. This highlights a major difference between government and industry unions.  Private industry unions are constrained by company bottom lines while for government employee unions taxpayer pocketbooks are the bottom line. 
State and Local governments.  In 2008 wages and benefits of state and local government employees amounted to $1.1 trillion, half of state and local government spending.
Compensation costs are rising due to increases in pension and health care benefits.  Recent evidence affirms that public unions are resisting any substantive changes to their pay, pensions and benefits even though they usually exceed those enjoyed by their taxpaying counterparts in the private sector.  A 2012 finding notes that states nationwide are an estimated $4 trillion in debt primarily due to unsustainable labor agreements.  See the 2010 Cato Institute report at the tenth link below for full details.  States and municipalities are struggling with no clear indication as to how to fix the problem resulting from generous contracts negotiated between unions and governments.  Government negotiators, instead of protecting the interests of all their constituents, have instead repeatedly supported the interests of union labor.  Recent conflicts between both the unions and states/municipalities have yielded little, if any, progress towards resolution.  Budget deficits will ultimately require an equitable adjustment in union contracts, higher taxes or bankruptcy.  To expand the state and local government discussion just a bit, take a look at the last link below.  There you will find out just how extravagant some bureaucrats are and how well they compensate themselves, like the California executive of a low income city paying himself $822,000 per year.
Federal government.  According to information tabulated by the US Office of Personnel Management the federal government employs 4.443 million civilian and military personnel (see eleventh link below).  While that is a hefty number it does not account for the multitudes that work for the government under contract.  The Congressional Budget Office chart at the twelfth link below compares the compensation of federal and private sector employees, focusing on wages and benefits between 2005 and 2010.  A recent review of FY 2010 Department of Defense (DoD) expenditures found that the DoD alone spent $108 billion for its civilian workforce while paying $253.8 billion on service contracts (which paid its workers 2.94 times that of DoD civilians).  Consider the enormity of the costs that spread across the entire federal government's personnel resources.  All paid for by tax payers.  Links 12, 13 and 14 below provide insight into both federal and state workforce costs largely driven by overly generous union contracts.  While not members of a union, federal elected officials are doing quite well financially.  Just one of a number of examples is at the last link below.

9.  Public education.  To dispel the myth that the problem with our public schools is that they are underfunded one needs only to consult the charts contained in the 11 February 2011 report prepared for Congress entitled "The Impact of Federal Involvement in America's Classrooms", especially charts 2 and 3 (see first link below).  There is no denying the sharp contrast between funding increases starting in 1998 and spiking in 2008 and the sustained flat rate of student performance from 1970 to 2010. 
Believing that central planning and control of education was essential for American competitiveness in the world, congress established the Department of Education in 1980.  Instead of improving things we have been in educational decline ever since.  According to Charles Murray "we are today about where we were in math achievement in the 1960s. For reading, the story is even bleaker. The small gains among fourth graders diminish by eighth grade and vanish by the twelfth grade."  For more details see the second link below.  International rankings do not bode well as Joy Resmovits reports.  Referencing statistics recently released by the Department of  Education's National Center for Education Statistics, Resmovits writes: "The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement's PIRLS and TIMSS 2011 exams, released Tuesday {11 Dec 2012}, measure reading in fourth grade, and math and reading at fourth grade and eighth grade respectively. Across the board, East Asian countries occupied the upper ranks in the comparison of more than 60 world education systems, far outperforming the U.S.. Because the tests measure different groups of students from year to year, the results are best used as snapshots of performance relative to other countries at one point in time. Overall, the U.S. ranked sixth in fourth-grade reading, ninth in fourth-grade math, 12th in eighth-grade math, seventh in fourth-grade science and 13th in eighth-grade science." (link three) To validate that subsequent schooling beyond elementary and middle school is failing, consider results of almost 1.7 million 2012 high school graduates who took the ACT college entrance exam: in four core subjects (english, math, science and reading) most graduates were not prepared for either college or the work force (see link four).  The June 2011 Edition of The Atlantic magazine provides an excellent overview of the nature of the problems our nation's school systems face.  Review of the article will reveal that teachers unions and their influence over state governments are a major problem.  In addition, it affirms that government controls of funding and top down control mechanisms in the Department of Education are an abysmal failure. All with interest in our children's education should read The Atlantic article at link five below.  This item relates to item 8 above.

Readers who made it this far will surely surmise that this itemization is in no way complete as it relates to the causes for the slow demise of our culture, economic and political systems.  But it does serve a specific purpose.  Take a look at the following list:

1.  Abolition of property in land and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3.  Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4.  Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5.  Centralization of credit in the hands of the state.
6.  Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the state.
7.  Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state.
8.  Equal liability of all to labor.  Establishment of industrial armies especially for agriculture.
9.  Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
10.  Free education for all children in public schools.  Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form.  Combination of education with industrial production.    

You may recognize this list as being the 10 planks of the communist party written in 1848 by Karl Marx and contained in his book, Communist Manifesto. The book reads a bit awkwardly to us because the language used comports with the language of his day.  Nonetheless it is easy to relate the 9 items I summarize above with what Marx wrote as necessary actions to bring about communism.  For convenience I combined Marx's planks 9 and 7 as they are more related today than they were in his day.  Should the reader scoff at the implications presented herein, consider that as recently as 1958 the Communist Party USA was seeking to destroy our society and form of government.  Please read in the link below a synopsis of the Communist Party's plans as documented in W. Cleon Skousen's book entitled The Naked Communist.  Add what Skousen highlights to the above narrative and either by happenstance or design it is clear that their plans are materializing.  Not covered here is the coming bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare, the growing plight of the poor and increasingly the middle class, growing reliance of private citizens on a bankrupt government, incessant borrowing and taxation to keep the sinking ship afloat, and more - all the result of government actions which have inflicted untold harm upon the nation and average citizens.  This is a consequence, knowingly or not, of pursuing the promises of the impractical myth of socialism.  As Margaret Thatcher noted:  “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”  The encroachment of government, at tax payers expense, into the private sector economy, our national culture and even our private lives is undeniable.  The government's claim is that all they do is for our good. The consequential harm to our culture, economy, society and families belies that claim. Anyone dealing in reality will also recognize the encroachment of socialism, if not communism, into our society and our government.  Given the history of both the future does not bode well for us.

I am not a conspirary theorist.  I am a realist.  The facts speak for themselves.  In the first paragraph of this paper I asked you to consider whether you agree with me.  Having read this far, what do you think?