'Cause I Said So…

What’s Up With the Trolls?

Posted in Social Media, Twitter by kevinsoberg on February 28, 2010

Why can’t I post an opinion, anywhere, without some jerk attacking me?

I understand somebody commenting on my blog or replying to my commenting on their blog site. That’s what I’m seeking, a dialogue. Here’s my idea(s). Here’s what I think of your idea(s). What’s your response? There’s my reply. A conversation! Yippee!

I’m pretty much expecting some sort of response if I write something in a chatroom or I use certain hashtags on Twitter. I know I’m putting red meat out there. I would be stupid to not expect some possible reaction. A straight guy in a gay bar shouldn’t get mad if someone makes a pass. You’re putting yourself out there. Y’know what I mean?

However, if I’m simply tweeting to my followers or using a like-minded hashtag, why the vitriol? Don’t these guys have anything better to do with their life? Do they actually think they’re going to change minds and hearts attacking or belittling others, or using offensive language? What kind of satisfaction are they getting from this sort of behavior?

Funny thing is… I’ve learned that there are people who get off on this stuff. When I was a newbie, I thought people were actually seeking an exchange of ideas. I would join discussions, make comments, point out factual and logical mistakes. Boy, did I learn the truth… and quickly.

People are out there “troll hunting.” They are laying bait for trolls and hoping for a bite. When I would point out the problems with their arguments, they would think I was agreeing with the premise of the trolls’ opinions. When I finally got it into their head that I basically agreed with their conclusions (just not with their rhetoric), they would get angry with me for “cutting their line.” I would have to block them because they wouldn’t stop arguing, or I would be blocked because I was being “disloyal.”

Obviously, I have opinions. Why else would I be writing this? However, I don’t believe in attacking others or engaging in fruitless arguments. I’m not one who enjoys banging my head against a wall. The wall always wins, and all I ever get is a headache. So, a pox on both of their houses. They can have each other. Just leave me out of it.

Don’t forget, though, I’m open to true discussion. It’s just that I’m always right. Heh!

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Shouldn’t Be Surprised: Utter Ignorance of Democrat Senators

Posted in Uncategorized by kevinsoberg on February 26, 2010

I was watching a video, “Obama & Dems in ’05: 51 Vote ‘Nuclear Option’ is ‘Arrogant’ Power Grab Against the Founder’s Intent,” http://bit.ly/cgTbfi produced by Naked Emperor News showing snippets of the ’05 debate over the “Nuclear Option.” It shows Democrat Senators emotionally arguing against Republicans changing the filibuster rules to not pertain to judicial appointments. It’s jolly fun watching these Senators cry about the sanctity of the filibuster knowing that they are presently considering ignoring Senate rules to pass so-called “Health Care Reform” or “Health Insurance Reform” or whatever the hell they’re calling it today. However, we know statists are immune to shame, especially when it comes to hypocrisy, unless (of course) it’s practiced by their opponents.

Watching this, what really struck me was the absolute ignorance of these Senators. (Or to be fair, the ignorance of their staffs. I mean, do we really think these empty suits wrote those speeches themselves?) They kept going on and on about the Framers’ intent when it came to the purpose of the Senate, and the history and importance of the filibuster.

Before I go any farther, let me admit something. I like the filibuster. Yeah, it bites us on the ass sometimes, but that’s the point. Anything that slows down government action has my approval. However, the rules of the legislative bodies must be constitutional, and the filibuster has been misapplied to judicial nominations. There I said it. I’ll go into it more if necessary, just not now.

First, the Framers’ intent concerning the purpose of the Senate went the way of the Dodo bird with the passing of the 17th Amendment. The Senate was meant to be a body representing the individual States, as separate legal entities possessing both innate and Constitutional authorities. The House (of Representatives) was to be the only form of direct democracy in the Constitution, the “People’s House.” The 17th Amendment turned the “States’ House” into the “People (from a State)’s House. The result is a swing in the delicately constructed balance of power away from the States to the Central Government. Can you imagine any of the myriad of State mandates coming out of a Senate whose members were appointed by State governments?

Second, the filibuster, preventing a vote to come to the floor, is not a Senate rule grounded in the Constitution. Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states, “Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings.” That is the extent of it. As a matter of fact, no filibuster was possible according to Senate rules during the first two Congresses, and the first filibuster didn’t occur until 1837. These filibusters could only delay the inevitable vote, and not permanently kill a measure, because the rules could be changed at any time with a simple majority. Finally, the current filibuster, requiring 60 votes to bring a motion to the floor, wasn’t adopted until 1975 by a Democrat-controlled Senate. So, it’s not like we’re talking about rewriting the Talmud or changing the Catechism.

I could go on and on about this, especially the 17th Amendment, and I have. I just haven’t posted it… because it’s too long, I (still) can’t finish it, and (most importantly) I don’t want to sound like the Uni-bomber or your cousin going on about the Kennedy Assassination or … Algore (God forbid!).

It’s just a damned shame we (not me, or you, probably, but you know) have elected such numb skulls to such high office. And they think they can run everything better than we can. Pity…

Rubio Mini-scandal: Much Ado About Nothing?

Posted in Uncategorized by kevinsoberg on February 25, 2010

The Miami Herald is reporting a story, “Rubio Charged Personal Expenses on GOP Card.”  The dust up is about personal expenses “improperly charged” to the Florida GOP when Rubio was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Included in the story is a list of items charged to an American Express Corporate Card that was issued by the Florida Republican Party to Marco Rubio, a Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate from Florida.

The only important question: “Were the items only charged to the card, or were they paid for by the Party?” Is there a difference? Yes. Personal expenses intentionally paid for with campaign money is a violation of federal law. If on the other hand, personal expenses were charged to American Express but paid for by Rubio (or the Party was reimbursed during the same reporting period), then campaign funds were not misappropriated.

Now, not everyone knows how American Express (Amex) Corporate Cards operate. A primer: You charge stuff as you go (business or personal). You go online to their site and categorize your charges as personal or business. If it’s business you provide all the pertinent information for your accounting department. Before you log off you can see the business total and the personal total. You can do this as often as you like before the end of the billing cycle. At the end of the cycle, Amex sends a bill for the business expenses to the corporate entity (in this case the FL GOP) and sends a separate bill to the card holder for the personal expenses (they run a credit check before issuing the card). That’s it.

Even if the expenses were reconciled after the bill was paid by the Party, as long as Rubio repaid them, no harm no foul. If the FL GOP has a policy against personal use of the card, well then some one should have said something at the time. To go back now, when it seems there was no actual violation of campaign law, and make a big deal is obviously for intra-party political purposes.

The culprit for this would have to be the Crist campaign, hoping to save its candidate from losing. So, a message to Gov. Crist, his campaign and supporters: Don’t win the battle to lose the war. Obviously, the people are skeptical of you. If you use these tactics to win the GOP primary, there will be a third-party candidate. You and that person will both lose, as will Florida and the American people. Fight a clean fight. If you win… great. We’ll support you, grudgingly maybe, but support you we will. However, things like this just undermine people’s belief in the system and the Party as a vehicle for reform. Something to think about.

Law of Unintended Consequences: A Cautionary Tale

Posted in Bureaucracy, Free Trade, Libertarianism, Lobbyists, Taxes by kevinsoberg on February 18, 2010

Politicians like to think they can make economic decisions on our behalf with no downside. As usual, the “smart people” can create the biggest mistakes when trying to “do good.”

Here’s one for you. Almost since the Louisiana Purchase, the federal government has had a system of tariffs and duties on the import of sugar to the US. Originally, it was to maintain sugar prices for growers in the new Louisiana Territory, thereby keeping slave prices high. In 1934, an import quota system was added to existing tariffs and direct farm subsidies. In one shape or form, these protections for domestic sugar growers have been in place to today.

These protections are deemed necessary because the American South is not the ideal growing environment for sugar cane. Cane much prefers the moisture, warmth and sun of the tropics to the short growing season of the semi-tropical regions of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Florida and Texas. The resulting plants are much smaller and less productive than those grown in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.  In addition, there are the higher labor costs of the US farmer and farm worker.

The result of political intervention in the sugar market is a US price triple the world price. A 1-cent increase in sugar prices costs US consumers in excess of $200 million in increased food costs. The vast majority of this extra profit goes to the growers all at the expense of US consumers. Food costs have a disproportionate effect on lower and middle class consumers, who have less elasticity in spending ability and less disposable income.

What is the rationale politicians and the industry give for higher than necessary food prices for Americans? Food security. All of our food must be grown domestically to ensure a safe and ready supply. Really. As if in time of national emergency, we couldn’t easily secure sources of sugar in our backyard. I can think of better uses for this argument, such as domestically producing a much greater share of our own hydrocarbons. (Drill here, drill now. But that’s for some other time.)

I’m a big believer in open markets. Why should we be giving aid (alms) to countries like Haiti? They could be producing a commodity product for sale to our market. We’re being hit three times for money: payments to farmers, higher prices and foreign aid. Why not skip the middle men, save money and create opportunities for our neighbors? Sounds good to me.

If artificially high food prices were where this tale ended, it would be bad enough. However, there are other issues as a result of this tinkering with our markets. They are the transformation of the US diet and its possible health effects.

Food processors, like every other enterprise, try to maximize profits and minimize costs. Well, if one of your major ingredients was kept artificially high, what might you try to do? Substitute it, possibly? That’s exactly what they started doing.

Processors began replacing sugar with an invention of US food scientists, high-fructose corn syrup. Look at the label of almost any processed food product from baked goods to bottled soda. You will see high-fructose corn syrup. You may also see sugar, but probably not. Unless it’s a dry, powdered product, sugar has all but been replaced with this sweet liquid.

Use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a major sweetener began in the US as a response to high domestic sugar prices. HFCS is produced from corn, the largest crop in the US, and was created as one of a myriad of uses for the huge domestic corn crop. It was introduced as a secondary sweetener, and its use as the primary sweetener in the US food market was unforeseen.

HFCS is made in a three-step process. First, the corn is physically abraded to open up the starch molecules. Second, the starch molecules are treated with chemicals to break up the starch molecules until it is a liquid solution of mostly glucose, which is standard corn syrup (ex. Kayro) and is less sweet than cane sugar (sucrose).

Okay. Big deal. What’s this got to do with anything? Well, here’s the problem. We weren’t built to consume mass quantities of fructose. Fructose cannot be used by our bodies directly. It must go through an enzymatic process to change it to glucose, which is our “common carrier” of calories. Yeah, sucrose, cane sugar, is not strictly glucose either and must be converted for use. Big difference though, sucrose is a glucose molecule bonded to a fructose molecule. There is a 50:50 ratio of glucose to fructose in sucrose. We were built to metabolize this ratio and can do it, continually, to no ill effects (assuming no medical issues). What glucose / fructose ratio do you think is used to achieve the teeth-hurting sweetness of most bottled beverages?

Another thing, while fructose is sweeter on our tongues than is sucrose, it takes longer for it to be processed to glucose. This results in our uptake of glucose to lag behind our consumption of fructose. Our hunger, or “sweet tooth”, takes longer to be sated. We end up consuming larger amounts of the food stuff before our body tells us we’re done. Also, there’s been studies associating high fructose consumption to all kinds of negative health issues. I’m not going to get into all that. Look into it yourself, if interested.

Here’s the kicker, in November 1984, Coke and Pepsi announced their switch to HFCS from cane sugar. Pepsi had been using a blend for years, so no major issue. However, Coke for all its years had been using cane sugar, exclusively. Coincidentally, the following Spring, New Coke was introduced with HFCS, not sugar. Even after “Original Formula” Coke was reintroduced, HFCS was the sweetener. All remaining soft drink manufacturers soon switched to HFCS.

Today, unless you buy a soft, energy or sports drinks from a boutique bottler, you are consuming HFCS. Take a look at the time lines involved. When did we start hearing about our kids getting so “portly”? Seems to me it was after the HFCS takeover. Now, kids like sweet stuff. I did, and ate tons of it. “Kids don’t get any activity, right?” Hey, I had video games, TV and books. It’s not like we were out on some hamster wheel all day long.

What fundamentally changed for kids, and for all of us? Might it be our diet? I can’t think of anything more basic than that. You know of Occam’s Razor, right? It’s the principle that when given a selection of hypotheses, you choose the one that requires the least assumptions. How’s this: our diet affects our health.

Without any forethought or understanding of possible negative outcomes, politicians, lobbyists and entrenched interests have worked to change the way and what we eat. To what result? We shall see. Thanks guys.

GOP Is the Only Vehicle for Democrat Defeat

Posted in Career Politicians, Conservativism, Democrats, GOP, Libertarianism, Politics, Tea Party Movement by kevinsoberg on February 15, 2010

[Note: For full disclosure, this is a compilation of my side of a conversation with fellow blogger, Jen Penman (@jpenaz on Twitter) at her blog, “My Life as a Blog,” in May 2009. You can read her post, “Libertarian, yes, positive,” and our conversation at http://jpenaz.blogspot.com/ . I’ve resurrected it in light of the recent Tea Party Convention and continuing calls for a third-party movement. This compilation has been edited for clarity of thought.]

I completely understand dissatisfaction with the Republican Party. I began to feel this same dissatisfaction as I watched the Party squander the gains of the ’94 and the ’00 elections on petty power politics. The Party never effectively educated the public about its agenda. It never took advantage of its time in control of both Congress and the White House to introduce the systemic changes for which many of us worked so hard to bring it to power.

I have always been about principle over Party, but known that we must all work within a right of center coalition. The natural home for this coalition is the Republican Party. Splintering of this coalition leads to our defeat at the hands of our ideological nemeses residing in the Democratic Party. We all have to understand we must hang together, or we will hang alone.

Is there room for dissent against the leftward drift of the GOP we’ve seen since ’94? Absolutely, but dissent needs to be expressed within the party structure to pull it back to the right. The current status of the GOP should be unacceptable to conservatives, libertarians and other people of the right. However, the answer isn’t to abandon the GOP, but to change it.

The job of voters under a republican government is to elect persons who represent our opinions. The job of our representatives is to vote as they’ve pledged they would while seeking office. However, it appears many only seek ways to broaden their appeal for re-election. We need to hold them accountable, and show them they must faithfully represent us, if they wish to stay in office.

Politicians must realize that we are more than willing to replace them if they aren’t fulfilling their obligations. They must understand that we will not automatically vote for them just because they have the correct letter next to their name. Also, there must be primary contests to remove those politicians who do not represent those who have elected them. Even if they ultimately win re-election, it will act to pull them back into the proper direction.

The United States has, and has always had, a two party system. These two parties, which have gone by many different names over time, represent the overwhelming majority of U.S. voters. They do so because they represent the two larger ideological movements, center-left and center-right, in respect to the overall body politic of the time.

There is nothing wrong with being a member of the Libertarian Party or any other “alternative” party, in and of itself. “Alternative” parties are often ways for the dissatisfied to come together outside of the structure of the main parties to build coalitions, which then ultimately act as groups within the larger parties. However, party membership leads to party loyalty, and that’s the problem. It’s the same with all third, or “alternative,” political parties.

“Alternative” political parties are, almost exclusively, ideologically based in the strictest sense. Whether it is the Greens, Communist, Natural Rights, Conservative, Libertarian, et al, they are built around on a very tightly held set of beliefs, which inevitably leads them to be relatively small groups. People voting for these parties have only a marginal effect on elections, but the result can be to the detriment of the larger ideological movement to which each of these parties belongs.

We do not operate under a parliamentary system. It is winner takes all. If an “alternative” party wins ten percent of the vote across the entire electorate, it gets exactly nothing for this achievement. The most likely outcome will be defeat for the candidate which comes second closest to its members’ views. People with deeply held political convictions should bring that passion and drive back into the major parties. They should influence those parties in the direction they want them to go.

No third party will ever gain enough voters to have any positive outcome for its greater ideological movement. The moment it wins a majority of the movement’s voters, it would cease to be a third party, but would continue to split the movement’s votes. The movement would continue to be powerless until its members come together under one party.

Now, I want to clarify a point on which I’ve already touched. Historically, the two major parties have represented the vast majority of American voters. This is because each party is a coalition of voters on their respective sides of the American political spectrum. The political spectrum, as opposed to the ideological one, slides in relation to the political beliefs of the general population. The beliefs of the voters set the scale by which left and right are measured.

As an example, think of the political spectrum as the range of colors broken down from white light. In shorthand the spectrum of light is ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). Just looking at it, the center color of light is G; however, the actual center, or average light color, of a star’s light depends upon the elements present in the star which are undergoing nuclear fusion. So, the “center” color of a star is the average of all the light colors emitted by the star.

In much the same way, the center of a population’s political beliefs depends upon the people being measured. America has historically had a political center which is to the right of Europe’s. As a people, we want less government than do Europeans. However, this is not an absolute and is not static. It bounces around from one election to the next.

Let’s say in one election all voters show up and vote for one of two parties. The party which attracts not only their half of the spectrum, but just one additional person wins. The next election the losing party is going to try to get back that one voter, and take another one to win. This back and forth would continue as each party tries to take a majority of all voters.

In reality, not all voters participate, and additional parties vie for votes. Both of these subtract from total votes of the two major parties. In the aftermath of recent elections, Republican Party leaders have looked at the numbers and seen only those votes garnered by the Democrats. These voters have become the focus for the next election, forgetting non-voters and alternative party voters. This leads Party officials and campaign advisors to pull the Party to the left seeking these votes.

If you are unhappy with the Republican Party as it exists, and you are unhappy with the direction the Democrats are taking the country, then you must become active in the Republican Party to bring it back to the Right. Growth in alternative parties only allows the apparatchiks within the Republican Party hierarchy to continue drifting left in search of “the center”. In reality the center remains where it was, but voters have been left behind on the Right. These voters must become active in the party machinery, and vote in primaries to remove candidates who undermine the party’s right of center ideological coalition.

Yes, there are ideological differences. We won’t agree all of the time. So, do we combine or divide our resources? No one tightly defined ideology is ever going to win an absolute majority. So, we must work together to move the country in our shared direction, the Right. Just remember what Reagan said, “Someone who agrees with me 80% of the time is my 80% friend, not my 20% enemy.”

Controversial Supreme Court Case Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Posted in Democrats, Politics, Supreme Court by kevinsoberg on February 12, 2010

The Supreme Court issued a decision in Smith V. Sanford. The majority handed down a two part decision. Part one threw out the claim of one party due to lack of standing in federal court, based on citizenship issues. Part two was more far reaching and ruled unconstitutional a federal law allowing states to make law concerning an individual’s rights. In addition, the Court found existing states’ laws restricting these rights to be null.

The immediate effect of this decision is believed to be that those persons living in states where their rights are not currently restricted are now allowed to exercise those rights in all other states. The result being a practice once illegal in a majority of states is now legal in all States and U.S. Territories. Opponents are criticizing the decision as being politically motivated, with the new Democrat President having covertly coerced the final outcome.

No, you didn’t miss a big headline, or the parades of scantily clad men and ruggedly handsome women.

The first party’s name wasn’t Smith, but Scott. The federal law thrown out wasn’t The Defense of Marriage Act, but the Missouri Compromise. The right held to be protected wasn’t “same-sex marriage.” It was to own slaves.

The Dred Scott Decision was never overturned by the high court. The first part of the decision was only nullified by the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment, when all former slaves were made citizens.

So, no one ever tell me the court can’t make “same-sex marriage” legal in all states. It’s done much worse in the past. All they need do now is say they are following precedent.

Ain’t the law fun?

Announcing the CGSS Hashtag

Posted in Uncategorized by kevinsoberg on February 11, 2010

As a follow up to my now famous (Hey! Over 40 views, and a comment!) premier blog posting, “Not Sure About That ‘Deep Bench’ Idea,” I’m unleashing the CGSS Hashtag (#CGSS).
What’s CGSS? What’s a ‘hashtag?’ What SOB forwarded this too me? I can’t help you with that last one (but I’m guessing he’s the friendly, intelligent sort).
CGSS, Chronic Government Service Syndrome, is the modus operandi of modern American politicians at all levels of government. When a politician believes it’s just fine and dandy for the Feds to tax the hell out of everyone, as long as he gets a portion to spread around, we’ve got a CGSSer. Federalism has been stood on its head since the introduction of the federal income tax, resulting in a tax system bass-ackwards from the Framers’ original intent. Paying excessive federal taxes, used to purchase (extort) our liberty for its return has, sadly, become the norm. It must end. How’s that?
Now, if you’ve been on Mars (or MySpace), you may not recognize this little gem, the hashtag. It’s a way of marking a post (or ‘Tweet’) on Twitter so it’s part of an open conversation strand pertaining to an area of interest. When a hashtag (eg. #CGSS) is added to a post, it becomes viewable to those following that hashtag on Twitter.
Why would one add such a hashtag? It’s a way of disseminating opinion and information beyond one’s followers, those who see all of your posts, to a larger community (not to mention those friendly ‘trolls’).
So, feel free… Nay, I urge you to make use of #CGSS when tweeting about those that too long have embraced the ‘loving’ arms of government.
P.S. If this turns into a ‘clusterfu–‘, I blame it all on Howe (@calebhowe). It was his idea… unless, of course, it works.

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Not Sure About That “Deep Bench” Idea

Posted in Bureaucracy, Career Politicians, GOP, Politics, Taxes by kevinsoberg on February 10, 2010

Over the years of following politics and public policy, from Republican ascendency, to fall, to now maybe return, I’ve heard from the political professionals in the New York/ Washington corridor the following refrain: The GOP needs a deeper bench.

I don’t know about that. Oh, I understand the idea. Republicans need more elected officials at the state and local level. There they can build impressive resumes to run against Democrat career politicians when seeking higher and ever higher office. Supposedly, this will give the GOP a “deep bench” (sports metaphor for lots of potential candidates) that can be called on at any given time to seek office.

Sounds good in theory, but I’m skeptical. Not that it’s a bad thing for the GOP to have an extensive list of people willing to seek elected office. My skepticism is of career politicians, regardless of party. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but long-term involvement in government changes a person’s outlook and attitudes. I’ve coined a phrase for this phenomenon: Chronic Government Service Syndrome (CGSS).

In most parts of the country even Democrat local officials are relatively conservative. How many local politicians get elected promising to raise taxes and spend it wastefully? Over time as they work their way up the political ladder to Congress their mind is altered and they end up voting for, as an example, Obama’s statist agenda. Want examples? Harry Reid and Tom Daschle were originally pro-life, deficit hawks, but many years of office later…

Don’t think I’m just picking on Democrats. The Republicans in Congress during George W. Bush’s Presidency are perfect examples of CGSS run amuck. Except for relative rookies, most congressional Republicans went along with Bush’s domestic agenda, including increased deficit spending, Medicare expansion, and (so-called) immigration reform, at least until their constituents raised a big ole ruckus. Most of these politicians had been in one or another elected office for over a decade, some most of their lives.

CGSS is the result of prolonged exposure to the political machinations most deem necessary in doing one’s job as an elected representative. These influences are felt at all levels of government. The longer one’s in office, and the higher the office held, the stronger the affects.

How is your local politician affected by this? Isn’t he a neighbor? He might be a friend. He’s not an absentee member of your community who spends most of his time hundreds or thousands of miles away. How can he possibly be like those career politicians in Washington or your state capitol? Well, just imagine the following conversation:

Citizen: Alderman (City Councilperson, whatever…), I’ve been running this program of late night basketball at our church’s recreation center during the summer to give kids something to do, and to keep them out of trouble.

Politician: Great idea! You’re doing the Lord’s work. How’s it going?

Cit: We’ve had an overwhelming response. That’s the problem. It’s gotten so big it’s outgrown our facilities.

(Here’s where it takes a possible turn.)

Option 1 (Personal Favorite):

Pol: Why don’t you reach out to other congregations to create simultaneous programs at other churches? It would spread out the kids and create opportunities for inter-congregational competition. Also, it could foster ecumenicalism between denominations.

Cit: I hadn’t considered that. I was thinking the city might let us use those big courts at the local park.

Pol: I understand your thinking, but it’s just not financially feasible. The agencies involved are already operating on tight budgets. It’s probably best to keep this program self-run. As a matter of fact, I’ll speak to my minister and put him in touch with you.

Cit: Well… thanks anyway. I’ll consider what you’ve said.

Option 2 (Not bad):

Pol: Really? What are your plans?

Cit: Well, I’ve been thinking about it. The city has those big Public Courts that go unused after dark. Is there a possibility we can have access to them?

Pol: I’m not sure. Yes, they are there, but there are budgetary considerations. Parks and Recreations would have to have available funds for staffing and electricity. Also, I’m not sure the neighborhood would appreciate a bunch of kids and more road traffic without an increased police presence.

Cit: Well, there would be volunteers from the church…

Pol: I know, but it could open up the city to liability issues. Tell you what I’ll do… I’ll speak to the Mayor/ City Manager and see if there is any wiggle room in the existing budget.

Cit: Thank you. I understand there may be problems. Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

Option 3 (All too often…):

Pol: That’s terrible! Is there any way I can help?

Cit: Well, you have those big Public Courts going unused after dark…

Pol: You’re absolutely right! A program like that deserves access to the city courts. They are for “The Public.” What else are these kids to do? It shouldn’t cost much, and I’m sure there’s a federal/ state program for “at-risk” youth we can tap. I’ll have my staff contact the grant writers at City Hall and see what is available. If there isn’t something, I’ll contact our Congressperson/ Legislator to see if they can earmark some funds for this important program.

Cit: Gee! You’ve really gone above and beyond my expectations. You can count on my support come election time.

Now, don’t think me too cynical, but how many local politicians would prefer the third version of this conversation to take place? Sorry to say, but after the initial election most politicians seem bent on re-election. Even those originally elected with the attitude represented by the first two options could grow weary of disappointing constituents. Why should they when other funding sources are readily available?

Most politicians probably didn’t seek office with any strong ideological grounding. Maybe, most of them just wanted to “get things done.” If in the course of “getting things done” they’ve had to tap other funding sources, well, so be it. If they can’t ask constituents to directly pay for services they (may or may not) request, perhaps there’s somebody else they can ask who is more than happy to “generously” hand it out. All’s the better, right?

A moment to rant about taxing and spending in America:

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of tax money in the U.S. is collected by Washington. It not so slowly became this way since the passing of the 16th Amendment, the Income Tax. Over this time, the federal government began edging out states and localities for access to tax dollars (the Feds get first pickings and they take it out of your paycheck). As a result, citizens have become less likely to approve state and local tax increases (the closer the government, the more say we have).

Simultaneously, Washington began “revenue sharing” with the states. “Sharing” being just a fancy way of saying, “We’ll let you have some back, if you spend it how we tell you.” At first, this was fine with most states. They were either bigger and richer (and got to tell the yokels how to spend the money) or were smaller and poorer (and what are a few strings when the money is free?).

Every governmental body has a full-time staff dedicated to writing grant requests to federal and state agencies. The existence of these agencies is to spend “other people’s” money on “worthy” projects. Most of the state agencies are just funnels for federal dollars allocated under “block grants.” These grants are money “given” to the states to spend, as long as they chip in matching funds and follow miles of rules and regulations.

So, we’ve come to a situation where we elect people to take our money, under penalty of law, to some far away capitol. These people decide how much (if any) of our money we get back and how it must be spent. The Founders’ original plan for the flow of tax money has been reversed, reducing our sovereign states to virtual administrative districts of a central authority. In addition, for the partial return of our money, we get to pay the (generous) salaries of an endless number of middle men whose jobs are to constantly meddle in our affairs.

The cause and effects of CGSS:

Do you remember what your dad said about you eating bread and salad at the all-you-can-eat places? “That’s how they get you!” Your dad was right. He didn’t pay $9.99 for you to load up on rabbit food. You were there to eat the meat and potatoes.

Well, a politician has been “got” the moment he buys into the idea in any way that taxation can or should take place at a different level of government than that at which the money is spent. We don’t tax just one locality to pay for the military. A federal purpose requires federal tax money be spent on it. The same logic applies to local and state purposes. The citizens of California shouldn’t be taxed to pay for roads or schools in West Virginia, or vice versa.

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as “free” money. However, seventy-five years ago in the midst of the Depression it must have seemed almost free. It’s a different world today. Now, there exists an intricate web of rules and regulations surrounding all “grant” money. How much money is actually consumed with ancillary costs associated with meeting requirements to get (or continue getting) the “free” money? Additionally, how much local control and personal liberty is lost as the price paid for accepting this “generosity?”

As an example, there exists a law, signed by George H.W. Bush, called “The Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA). Put aside the Constitutional, ideological and ethical arguments about this law. If you receive any federal money in any way shape or form, directly or indirectly, you are affected. Guess what? Even if you don’t, you’re still affected because your local and state governments are.

How are you affected? Labor laws were changed, everywhere. Building codes were changed, everywhere. Educational requirements were changed, everywhere. Cost of government at all levels was increased, everywhere. Oh, did I happen to mention… EVERYWHERE?

How is it possible that one law can have such an effect that we are still witnessing its implementation twenty years after it was signed? Does the federal government really have that kind of all encompassing power? Though some portion of the ADA has to do with direct federal authority, most of its provisions have to do with an indirect power, the power of the purse-strings. States and localities were told,”If you want to continue receiving money from us, you will implement these regulations, including changing your laws and codes, as we see necessary. Oh, by the way. We’ll keep watch on you, forever. You’re welcome.”

That’s how they get us. You want federal highway dollars? Sure, but change your speed limits and drinking age. You want the school lunch program and federal education money? OK, here’s a list of approved foods and your curriculum. Oh well, “He who pays the piper calls the tune,” right?

If you’re a politician and answered “yes,” you may have CGSS. Sorry you have to be reminded, but the government’s money was actually taken from somebody. Somebody is the citizens of your states. They are the ones who pay, twice. They pay, with their life, the taxes over-collected by the federal government, and then again, with their liberty and sovereignty, for a return of a portion of their own money.

So, the problem with the call for a “deep bench” for the GOP, and with career politicians in general is CGSS. Do we want more people who have bought into the notion that it’s okay for a government to buy off its people with their own money? Instead, shouldn’t we seek people who’ve lived and worked in the world outside of government? Shouldn’t we find people who understand that governments have no money of their own, who believe in the founding principles of this country? We need to elect people who know that just because they’ve done it this way for decades doesn’t make it right. We need real change, but really for real this time.