Audio Clips

28 February 2009

Today's "Weakest Argument Award" Goes To...

Mr. John Lovell, lobbyist for the law enforcement community! Congratulations, sir! You have just made one of the silliest arguments against legalizing marijuana. A little background will be needed here.

The New York Times has an article today discussing the efforts of states to find new revenue streams. One of the more interesting proposals is the taxation of marijuana. Now, regardless what your opinion is on this topic you would hope that the sides would come up with better arguments than this:
John Lovell, a lobbyist for several groups of California law enforcement officials, said the plan would create a large, illicit — and thus untaxed — black market...
Psst...Mr. Lovell. Lean over here for just a second. I want to make you aware of something that you seem not to have figured out. There's ALREADY a "large, illicit — and thus untaxed — black market" for marijuana out there. So you may want to come up with a more compelling argument for your side. That's all. You can go back to talking now.

Immorality of Government Charity

Recently, the Washington Times wrote an article discussing some of the tax changes that President Obama is proposing for charitable deductions. He is proposing reducing the deductibility of charitable donations. For those of us who make significant charitable donations over the course of the year, this is a disturbing development, but the loss of deductibility is only a minor inconvenience compared to a greater danger that this policy contains. Associated with the change in policy is a move toward further government immorality. Let me explain what I mean.

In the Washington Times article, Roberton Williams,senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, was quoted, saying:
This will lead people to give less to charities if they behave the way they've behaved in the past.
If we eliminate the deductibility then we may see a drop off in the amount of charitable contributions that occur and that is a serious concern, but frankly if the deduction were completely eliminated there would probably continue to be philanthropist leanings from the majority of the populace. The real danger is found in the next paragraph of the article.

Asked about that, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said Mr. Obama took care of that by giving charities government money to make up part of the difference.

This is where the immorality comes in. President Obama is not simply proposing reducing the deductibility of donations, he is proposing that the government tax the people and become the replacing donor to these charities. That is coercive and immoral and as a country we should be frightened of the implications of this continued slide toward government forcibly replacing our own better impulses.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this ideology would force us, at gunpoint, to give our money to a government that claims to know better than us how to take care of those in need and thus will make our charitable decisions for us. This is morally decaying and dangerous. If, as a society, we no longer sacrifice our time and money for the care of those in need because we feel morally compelled to do so then we will be on a path to a deserved destruction. The majority of Americans still feel the compulsion to give back to their neighbor in some way or another. It may be through donating time, food or money to the local food bank. It may be donating to the schools. It may be donating to libraries, children's funds, homeless shelters, medical services, prisons, infrastructure projects or any number of other worthy causes. We tend to seek out those things that speak to our own sense of mission in our lives.

If we allow our sense of mission to be usurped by the government then we will lose a connection with our fellow man that softens our worst impulses and creates a positive feedback loop that incites us to further service. That would be a tragedy of epic proportions and something that future historians would sadly shake their heads at. We CANNOT allow that to happen. For the sake of our childrens' liberty, we MUST NOT let it happen. We must communicate with our elected representatives the danger that that path leads to and work to avoid the immorality of government charity.

16 February 2009

Barron's Proposal for the Bailout Money

Ed Finn who is the Editor of Barron's magazine, a financial rag owned by Dow Jones has proposed that the federal government use $250 billion to reduce the principle amount owed by subprime borrowers on their homes. He insists that this is hard to advocate but must be done to move past this episode in our history. I ask, what lesson will those who get bailed out in this fashion learn? They will learn that they can make foolish financial decisions and not feel the consequences of them because the rest of America will pay for it. That is a moral hazard. I wrote to Mr. Finn and expressed my displeasure. Please consider doing the same. My letter is below.

Mr. Finn,

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in your proposal for the bailout money. I sold my house 3 1/2 years ago to move back to California near my parents to be a support. The price of housing was outrageous when we moved back so we chose to rent because it seemed obvious that the prices were unsustainable. We are saving up for a down payment to buy a home for our family of (soon-to-be) 7. The fact that you propose to allow those who made foolish decisions with their money to be saved in their houses by taking money out of my family's pocket is appalling. Why should we and the other 32% of Americans who rent have to pay for the 5-10% of Americans who risk losing their homes. I ran into so many people in the last 5-7 years who refinanced to pull money out and add on to the house, go on vacation, buy toys and otherwise waste their principal that it is offensive to me that I should have to pay to keep them in their homes. This country was founded on the belief that people should have the freedom to succeed AND make mistakes. What education is there in failure if the government (the taxpayer) will always be there to bail you out? It is a moral hazard to have people come under the belief that their foolish decisions will be subsidized by the working families of this country. I am embarrassed by your plan and question whether my recent subscription to your paper is worthwhile or if I should seek for better journalism elsewhere. Please refrain from encouraging our politicians to punish 1/3 of Americans (the renters) to help a small percentage of Americans who were foolish. That is injustice of the most punitive kind.

Joshua Richardson

14 February 2009

New Budget Program

Saturday Night Live sometimes has an uncanny ability to see straight to the source of a problem. This is no exception.

Symptomatic of the Problem

Our legislators just can't seem to stop spending our money to benefit their own personal interest groups. They seem incapable of recognizing the depth of the problem we are facing and instead continue to seek their own reelection. The Associated Press is reporting today that 4 senators were able to convince the Senate leaders to add tax deductions for those buying motorhomes or motorcycles. (You will probably not be shocked to find out that they have motorcycle and RV manufacturers in their states.) Is that really the best use of your taxing power Mssrs. Casey, Bond, Feingold and Kohl? I would contend that it is abuse to steal money from taxpayers and give it to someone just so they can buy a motorcycle. As if the rest of us don't already have enough bills to pay, now we have to pay for some stupid schmuck who wants to buy a motorhome. If you aren't fuming mad then I don't know what it takes to get you there.

07 February 2009

The Rangel Rule

I don't know about you, but I am tired of the political and business elite getting different treatment than we do and now Congressman John Carter of Texas is presenting a plan that I can really get behind. Recently, Representative Charlie Rangel of New York admitted on the House floor that he has not paid taxes on some property he owns for years. He, of course, has since made the back payments but, as Representative Carter notes, he did not have to pay any interest or penalties. Even more recently, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted to not paying back taxes. He also did not have to pay interest or penalties. Now, if this were you or I, we would have to pay more in interest and penalties than the taxes themselves. And yet, these two and other elites like them get preferential treatment as if they were some sort of aristocracy. It's an outrage.

Representative Carter is presenting a bill to allow what he calls the "Rangel Rule". Anyone who receives a past-due tax bill can pay it and write "Rangel Rule" on the bill and have all interest and penalties waived. This is a plan that I can support because everyone is treated equally. Plus, we would be able to stick it to the IRS. Who wouldn't want that?

Teen Abstinence Pledges

Several weeks ago all the major media outlets were reporting how a study just showed that teen abstinence pledges were ineffective at preventing teen sex. The problem is that that was a lie. Ignorant reporters gleefully spent the day telling the nation how stupid it was to assume that these abstinence pledges were effective. Just one more example of why it is crazy to believe everything you're being told by the media. It takes a lot of discernment to figure out what is accurate. Check out the A&G audio clip on "Abstinence Pledges" above.

05 February 2009

Here We Go Again

I'm sorry for being out of it for so long. I just got a functioning computer yesterday. I will be back to posting this week.