Levin’s Liberty Amendments

Levin’s 11 Proposed Liberty Amendments:

  1. Establish Congressional Term Limits
  2. Repeal the 17th Amendment and Restore the Senate
  3. Establish Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices
  4. Limit Federal Spending
  5.  Limit Federal Taxing
  6. Limit the Federal Bureaucracy
  7. Promote Free Enterprise
  8. Protect Private Property
  9. Grant States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution
  10. Grant States Authority to Check Congress
  11. Protect the Vote

Here are my thoughts on support:

Liberty #1: Partial Support: Twelve years is not enough for term limits. It may have been in 1789 but congressmen/women with less than 12 years under the belt are just not knowledgeable enough to thwart being manipulated by others. Twenty (20) years of Congress is fine and then out of the legislative branch. I can support term limits in the Executive Branch, too. Set them for twenty years and get rid of those lifers in the State Department, National Security, etc.

Liberty #2: Full Support with a twist. Leave the two senators elected by popular vote and add one to be chosen by each state. I can be convinced to add two chosen by the states for the simple reason that government is too complex for one person to understand it and legislate accordingly.

Liberty #3: Partial Support: I agree with the term limits but I don’t support the override of the Supreme Court decisions in Sections 4 thru 8. I prefer instead that 1. Congress shall have the authority to prevent the Supreme Court’s decision from becoming a legal norm by crafting and passing legislation specific to the case within 18 months of the court’s decision, or the case will be considered as settled law, 2. that such corrective legislation crafted by Congress shall be accompanied by the Supreme Court’s legislative analysis and review when presented to the members of both Houses before the final vote on the legislation 3. that the President does not have veto power over the Congressional vote, and 4. that a simple majority of States will have six months after Congress’ 18 month’s period to craft federal legislation to address a Supreme Court ruling and 5. that such legislation receives a three-fifths majority vote within another 6 months to enact it as federal law.

Liberty Amendment #4: Full support with a twist: I want to see the definition of a tax that includes user fees, parking fees, licenses,etc  and all the other fol-de-rol ways of not calling the confiscation of money from a citizen as a tax when it is used towards a federal facility, space, employee, or maintenance aspect of something in the federal domain.

Liberty Amendment #5: No support for this as written. I would support something that says the federal government cannot directly provide income or other means of support to more than 30% of the population with jobs, food, shelter, and clothing; and that it cannot provide more than 15% of the population with indirect support. From federal employees and military through the sick and disabled and contract workers, I want to see 2/3 able-bodied population in a self reliant fashion but I am not sure how that would be crafted.

Liberty Amendment #6: Full Support with a twist: The Federal government can sue State governments for inadequate consumer protections within a States’ commerce.

Liberty Amendment #7: Full Support

Liberty Amendment #8: Full Support

Liberty Amendment # 9: Full Support

Liberty Amendment # 10: Full Support for federal elections with a caveat that photographic evidence is a method and I am not certain that technology methods should be written into a Constitutional amendment. Proof of identification may be photographic, fingerprint, voice ID, retinal prints, DNA analysis, and by affidavit. Modify the wording slightly to make it acceptable for other types of identification, too, and I am fine. Fingerprint scanners seem more appropriate in most instances.

Those are my thoughts about Mr. Levin’s Amendments. I recommend that you read his book.

Outside the Constitution

We rarely think about laws and how they are put into place and by whom, but we should.

The Constitution Daily has an interesting article about how the IRS is deciding what it will and will not allow for filings from same sex couples.

The Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, in Article IV, of course, does require the states to honor “the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” But does a marriage decree qualify for that kind of respect? It probably does not, for two reasons. First,  the Supreme Court for decades has interpreted the clause to require respect for court orders, not other forms of state government action, and marriage decrees are technically not court documents. Second, the court also for a long time has said that there is an exception to the requirement when a state has a “public policy” that forbids it to respect another state’s action in a given area.

If those two reasons were not enough to deny marriage decrees in one state from recognition in another, Congress has given states explicit permission to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

That is a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act—Section 2—that was not under review before the Supreme Court this year.  Section 2 reads: “No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”

So how does that work? Congress says ‘if it is an opposite sex marriage all you states have to recognize it but if it is a same sex marriage then none of you states are bound by it.’

And if you are paying attention then you know that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not the least bit disturbed by the Defense of Marriage Act.

So here is what the IRS did:

…the Internal Revenue Service has used its own authority to interpret the federal tax laws to take a major step toward nationalizing the right of married same-sex couples to equal access to federal tax benefits, even if they move into a state that formally refuses to recognize their marriage.

In what is called a “revenue ruling,” which just went into effect on Monday, the IRS gave such couples the right to federal tax equality, so long as their marriage was valid in any state. The ruling, the IRS noted, “applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and obtaining the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.”

The ruling, the IRS stressed, “applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or  jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.” The tax rights for such couples, the agency added, are based upon the validity of the marriage where it was performed, not whether there is a right to marry where the couple currently lives.

This is a form of Constitution-making by a federal agency since the IRS did not wait for the courts to widen the scope of marriage equality before the agency chose to do so using its own administrative powers. The tax equality its ruling decreed, the IRS said in explaining why it acted, is necessary to avoid the constitutional problem that would arise if same-sex marriages were treated differently based solely on sexual orientation.

Now you are thinking ‘so what? Isn’t that what we want?’ Well, marriage is a State matter, no matter where Congress chooses to stick its nose. But once again, federal power seeks more power. And agencies seek ever more power to decree as they wish.

Will we stop this snowball from rolling?

 

New Government Entitlements for 2013!

Congress and President Obama have joined forces for the first time to bring you new government entitlements. I hope you like them because you are paying for them.

The US Government is:

1. entitled to spend whatever they want, whenever they want.

2. entitled to make you pay taxes over and over again on the same money.

3. entitled to force you to buy insurance from insurance companies or tax you.

4. entitled to tell you what kinds of products you can buy, like light bulbs.

5. entitled to read all your emails and listen to all your conversations whether you have committed a crime or not.

6. entitled to bomb anyone, anywhere, as long as they call them an enemy and do it for 60 days.

7. entitled to torture and detain any American citizen.

8. entitled to waive habeas corpus at any time.

9. entitled to sell weapons to criminals and watch them commit crimes with them.

10. entitled to tell your school what they should serve as food and what should be taught in the school.

11. entitled to track your whereabouts and use facial recognition software to spot you anywhere.

12. entitled to prevent you from remaining silent.

13. entitled to search you or your belongings anytime, anywhere.

14. entitled to force you to reveal your security pass codes so they can read your electronic papers and effects.

15. entitled to make you take off your shoes and other garments before you board a plane.

16. entitled to deny you travel by private air courier by putting your name on a list.

 

 

Gov Walker: Destroying municipal governance

What else can you call Wisconsin ACT 20 except a grab for more control over Wisconsin’s municipalities?

Reforming Government:

The budget reforms are not limited to state government. The Governors policies resulted in the first consecutive reductions in property tax bills for the typical homeowner in 15 years in 2011 and 2012.

This budget will continue this restraint in order to keep property tax bill increases for the median value home below 1 percent in each year by limiting municipal, county and technical college district levies to the growth in property value resulting from new construction as well as holding the line on school district expenditures.

 The Governors budget also takes a significant step towards reforming government entitlement programs by restoring these programs to their original intent- a safety net for our neediest citizens.

So let me see if I got this right, the 17% reduction in property values and lost property tax revenue due to the housing crisis was not made up by Gov. Walker in previous years so many municipalities struggled to find funds to do what towns typically do: Fix roads.  Less money to fix roads and bridges cannot now be made up through increased levies or fees under the new Walker budget. Which means that roads and bridges will further deteriorate in towns because the costs of road maintenance  is going through the roof. At $280,000 per mile to rebuild one road in town, our town is in serious trouble immediately. (In case you did not know, our entire Town budget is about $570,000 a year …which is two miles of rebuilt road…if we stopped fire department and ambulance services and schools.And no one is going to do that.)

It appears that Governor Walker is less concerned about the quality of roads and more concerned about the quantity of municipality savings.

Why am I surprised the Governor does not have the same level of concern about the quantity of state road savings?

The Governor’s budget maintains the investment and schedule to rebuild the Zoo Interchange, the Hoan Bridge, and the I-94 North-South corridor. The Governor continues to repay the 2005 through 2009 raids on the State’s transportation fund and allocates more general fund revenue for transportation uses. This budget also recommends an increase in state highway development, rehabilitation and maintenance funding.

I am pretty sure that more is going to hit the fan as we learn about the content of Wisconsin Act 20 that became effective June 30th this year. For example, the controls over levy limits are Leviathan in nature. Look here:

http://www.revenue.wi.gov/pubs/slf/LevyLimitFactSheet2013.pdf

This takes away town authority to control and/offer some essential services. Snow plowing is nothing to ignore, for example.Who wants to be the town that ran out of money to plow its roads during a May snowstorm like this year?

Dark days are ahead but it will take a couple of years to get to that point. You can just figure that towns will be more dependent upon state funding instead of less as years go by. Gov Walker is no different from the progressives who want to control you, he just does it differently, that’s all.

Sequestration? No! Scam to use federal money? Yes!

Go figure….

A steady rise in housing prices nationwide has made analysts and investors hopeful about the future of the U.S. housing market overall. But in Michigan, one of the states most battered by the financial downturn, officials are still grappling with the grim remains of years of unemployment, population loss, and plunging property values.
Those remains are not figurative. They can be seen in the form of abandoned houses — tens of thousands of them — in neighborhoods around the state. Detroit alone has more than 30,000 such buildings.
That’s why the Michigan State Housing Development Authority has been seeking permission to use federal funds aimed at keeping people in their homes to instead tear down derelict structures where no one will ever live again, and which often attract drug dealers, prostitutes, or arsonists.
Michigan’s leaders argued that demolition was the sensible place to start.
Yesterday, the feds finally agreed. Treasury officials released $100 million in money from the Troubled Asset Recovery Program, or TARP, to pay for a pilot demolition program in five Michigan cities: Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, and Saginaw.

So let’s see if we get this right….

1. These buildings are private property owned by banks or other investment groups.

2. They cannot be sold and they simply sit there losing value.

3. Some of those private buildings are used by the homeless or criminals and those private owners of those buildings do not pay for security to protect them.

4. The property owner’s solution is to get their Congressman to send a letter to TARP to use money (earmarked to keep people in their homes) as funds to destroy private property that is losing value.

Not a scam you say? Well, read this….

“U.S. Representative Daniel Kildee, a Democrat from Flint, argued his state’s case in a March letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew [PDF], whose department administers the Hardest Hit fund. He cited research showing that in Flint, where 12 percent of the housing stock sits empty, that sale prices for occupied homes go down by 2.27 percent for each abandoned structure nearby. Kildee was the co-founder of the Center for Community Progress, a national organization that advises cities around the nation on how to reverse blight, and he also co-founded Michigan’s Genesee County Land Bank, which buys up and develops vacant and foreclosed properties in the area that includes Flint.”

Oh, gosh…the man who co-founded a Land Bank that buys up and develops vacant and foreclosed properties wants to use federal funds to tear the damn buildings down and save some money while he waits to re-sell them. Let me see…he saves money on demolition, he saves money on insurance of undeveloped properties, and he saves the new buyers the cost of any demolition also.

What a Congressman! He is in on the deal! ( That may not be true although I infer it.) And because he is a Democrat, he gets the Administration to do what he wants….and wasn’t he clever to get the State of Michigan’s Housing Development to push for this in the Federal government. It is truly Orwellian when the State Housing Development is used to get money to destroy homes that were foreclosed upon.  How many of those homes could have had residents living in them if they were purchased or paid by the government instead of foreclosed upon?

And, of course, this is all done during sequestration….

This is why you, dear reader, need to elect reasonable people to Congress instead of Republicans and Democrats.

Update: I removed some of my emotion from this post. I got a little carried away.  Maybe next time, the cities of Michigan can sue the property owner, foreclose on the land, take ownership, put people to work tearing them down or boarding them up. Sheesh. Does everything require going to the Federal government for money to support some company, some developer, or some other initiative?

Sequestration and TSA and flying in America

“Transportation Security Administration: Isn’t planning any furloughs; will rely on a hiring freeze and reductions in overtime, according to a union official”

Here’s the link.

Ken Braun says that long lines at airports are all my fault. Look here.

Napolitano says that we should not yell at TSA agents.Look here.

Remember this? “The Obama Administration claimed the cuts would cause massive back-ups at security checkpoints. It didn’t. They said international travelers would face gigantic waits at Customs and Immigration facilities. We haven’t. They warned the closure of 147 air-traffic-control towers at lightly used airports would devastate commercial aviation. It won’t. Besides, a flurry of last-minute lawsuits has delayed any shutdowns until at least June 15.”

So if nothing has occurred that impacts the number of planes that can fly nor the number of TSA agents to screen people , then why did I spend 45 minutes trying to get through Seattle airport security on a Friday morning?

And it is not my fault, Ken. I have a routine that I follow every time I go through security but, until Friday, I have never had to remove my handkerchief from my back pants pocket and I have flown as much as 100,000 air miles in a single year.

Air travel sucks today. Bring back regulation. The de-regulation policy has brought lower prices for seats (it used to be passage, remember?) but every bag that I check costs me money while idiots with more carry-ons than a Hyundai can pack in its trunk are free to stuff them in the overhead. Every change in reservations costs me $150 round trip. Really? Really!

And don’t get me started on the customer service, the on board service, the cramped seating, and full airplanes. But if you really want to pick a fight with me, try telling me how pre-screened authorization for travelers is something that I ought to do.

I am so glad that I no longer fly 100,000 miles a year. I don’t have the stomach for it. Nor the cash for all the things that once were included as part of my passage. Tell me again how free markets work to the advantage of the consumer.

I can get a really cheap and uncomfortable seat if I book 30 days in advance, don’t change my reservation, don’t check any bags, and don’t eat on board. I can board last and not find any overhead bins to lay my jacket in without it being crushed by 40 pounds of garment bags. While waiting to board, there are not enough seats in the lounge area and people sit on the floor nearest to electrical outlets for laptops.

The sky may still be friendly but the person I talked with to have my wife and I sit together told me I had to get a seat assignment at the gate.(And I am a SkyMiles member, too!)  So I went on line and found that I could pay an additional $40 each for premium seats and we could book seats together.

Did I mention that the tickets were free? They were redeemed for being a good credit card customer. Those two free tickets cost me $600 when all was said and done. That is in addition to taking my clothes off, shoes off, belt off, and removing my handkerchief, pulling my iPad out of a case and sticking it into its own bin. I could not place my lightweight fleece zip-up on it for security reasons. Oh, I did read the sign that says if I was born before this date in 1937 that I could keep my shoes and jacket on while going through security. Shame that I missed that by about 14 years. I am guessing you missed it, too.

Why fly anymore? Well, there is the time vs money trade-off and I can tell you that driving for two days is now more appealing than flying.

If sequestration isn’t the problem then what is?

I think we need to bring back regulation and improve the travelers’ experience with flying.

And if you start telling me about terrorism, I will point out that no other travel mode has this level of security and they are doing just fine. Let’s get rid of this cr@p and get back to serving customers.It is a shame on the flying industry that I prefer government regulation over what we have today,

If you are an executive for Delta, United, Southwest, American, or any of the other 11 airline companies in the US, what are you doing to improve the traveler’s experience with your airline company? I say ‘nothing’. What do you say?

The IRS Spin Campaign in Play

After last week’s ACLU disclosure that the IRS was secretly viewing taxpayer emails without a warrant of probable cause, the IRS public relations department is countering with its own spin machine today.

On page 8A, Opinion Page, of the USA Today,  James Thompson, an associate professor in the Department of Public Affairs for the University of Illinois, pens an opinion on why pumping up IRS enforcement is good for everyone. He says:

“In other words, if the Internal Revenue Service had the capacity to catch those who knowingly or unknowingly evade the law, the burden on those who comply with the law could be lowered.”

he follows that later by saying “By failing to invest in stronger enforcement, the government, is, in effect, penalizing the honest tax payer in favor of the cheat.”

Nary a  word from Professor Thompson about the unconstitutional approach revealed by the ACLU. But then one might wonder if he is a shill. He is from U of I Chicago and he is a professor in the Department of Public Affairs. He is already on the side of government, isn’t he? Perhaps he is not a shill but simply silently assenting to the unconstitutional IRS shenanigans in order to protect the noble Public Affairs profession itself.

A second part of the IRS spin campaign can be found on page 9A with a FACEBOOK link to answer the survey question: “Is the IRS doing enough to fight identity thieves?”  Citing a rise in fraudulent returns from 500,000 in 2009 to 1.8 million in 2012, the question steers you to say ‘no’. The reasonable mind wonders whether somebody changed the definition of fraudulent (purposefully wrong) returns to include taxpayer errors in filings. (How else to explain that meteoric rise?) But the whole effect is to subconciously justify the IRS’ actions to read the emails of taxpayers because, after all, they are just trying to catch thieves. And that is noble , is it not?

What else will the IRS do to offer plausible counters to their unconstitutionality? Let’s wait and see.

(I am also getting an uneasy feeling about U of I Chicago, its faculty, and notable graduates. Should I be concerned?)

Update: I should have waited and read the whole paper before writing the above post. Over on page 1B is this headline: “My tax acccountant is a high school kid”. ( Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.) I quote “High schools across the country have turned students as young as freshmen into IRS -certified tax preparers and are having them do free tax returns for low-income community members in partnership with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program ( VITA).”

Does anyone think that maybe the IRS is responsible for the 1.8 million fraudulent returns?  Well, perhaps you will enjoy this gem: “Over eight years, A.J. Moore students have prepared more than 10,000 returns and as a result, people have received more than $15.4 million in refunds. The students do such a good job that some folks come from more than 100 miles away to have their taxes prepared…..”

Oh, My Goodness. And nobody wonders why people come from 100 miles away to have tax returns prepared by freshmen who have helped people get $15.4 million in tax refunds. Makes me wonder if the IRS is reading the emails of freshmen at this highschool….Nah, can’t be….Could it?

Oh to be in Public Relations at the IRS. Just throw crap at the wall and see what sticks. From identity theft to needing stronger enforcement to helping kids become tax preparers, just look at all the reasons why you should like and support the IRS… no matter what….

IRS Searches Your Email? Apparently…

Look Here.

“The Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic  storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do  not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communication,” the IRS  Criminal Tax Division’s Office of Chief Counsel wrote in 2009.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/irs-accused-email-snooping-article-1.1313329#ixzz2QUGGiN99

“The documents the ACLU obtained make clear that, before Warshak, it was the  policy of the IRS to read people’s email without getting a warrant,” Wessler  wrote. “Not only that, but the IRS believed that the Fourth Amendment” — which  protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures —”did not apply to  email at all.”

The ACLU argues that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which gives  the government the right to look at emails more than 180 days old without a  search warrant, is badly outdated.

So there you have it. Unreasonable searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Need more evidence?

Debt Doesn’t Matter? On what planet?

If the debt does not matter then why do we have taxes at all?

Quote Steve Rattner: “WITH little fanfare, a dangerous notion has taken hold in progressive policy circles: that the amount of money borrowed by the federal government from Americans to finance its mammoth deficits doesn’t matter.”

Every day somebody tries to convince you that there are sober reasons why America cannot simply stop acquiring debt. They postulate that we need only to bend the spending curve and we can retire our debt or simply survive long enough so that our debt becomes a smaller portion of a larger pie. What rubbish!

Every day somebody tries to convince you that entitlements are the problem and if only the government would pay you less money when you retire or give you less medical treatment in the future that our government would be fine.

I propose two things:

1. We do nothing about entitlements. After all, does it matter if senior citizens get 75% of today’s Social Security next year as a prevention or 20 years from now as a correction? If we do nothing, it happens 20 years from now. Shouldn’t we wait until then? And when it comes to healthcare, do we want more misery today or more misery 20 years from now? I know my choice how about you?

2. We do something about everything else in government. When we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, shouldn’t we take care of them first and everything else last?

It seems to me that this debate is about ‘how can the government give more money to someone other than the people?’ Don’t raise taxes, don’t reduce government, lower the spending that alleviates poverty. What kind of thinking is that?

I favor a balanced budget. I think that government should set a moral example for the people to follow under certain conditions. Thrift seems to be one of them.But to assume that all cuts have to come from “the people” is an absurd notion.

And a corollary that debt doesn’t matter is absurd on the face of it.

Federal Reach

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (that is the name of the bill that “avoided” the fiscal cliff scenario) is a good example of what is wrong with the federal reach.

First, THIS tells you that that the legislation is tainted with perks for companies and industries. Like $9 B to Big Business to be used overseas. Technically it gives a tax break for financing projects overseas. Think about this. We don’t want the Bush tax breaks to expire because it will hurt the American economy and Jobs so the first thing we do is give tax breaks to Wall Street to set up operations in foreign lands ( hint: that means American jobs going overseas either directly or indirectly)

There are other perks, too. Like giving money to railroads to repair the rails. I know you are thinking ‘WTF can’t they pay to fix their own railroads with all that Wisconsin frac sand shipping to North Dakota?’ Well, why pay for what Congress will give you for free?

And , of course, NASCAR gets a tax break to help them build new racetracks. Imagine that. Go read about the others, like tax breaks for Hollywood’s film industry…

When the federal government is picking winners and losers with tax breaks and incentives then its federal reach is too great. This is shameful and is another example that there is too much federal intrusion into the American economy.

Everybody is special in America today. Even corporations and industries. Handicapped companies receive government compensation just like handicapped people. What is particularly irritating is that companies don’t need to be handicapped at all to get special incentives that allows them to do poorly what they have been doing poorly all along.

There is something wrong in America today. Do your part to save the National Treasury. Hold Congress responsible.