My Political Views Contradict My Political Views

The labels that we assign people politically are limiting and completely screwed up.

Last month I was one of about 30 people who showed up to an invitation only gathering to see and hear a presentation about a local environmental group.  Even that previous statement has some misleading stuff in it.  I said it was by invitation only which was true.  But how do you get an invitation?  From anyone else who got an invite.

The words we use and/or the news media uses shapes our perceptions and views if we let them.  As we prepare for the “running of the bulls.” (bulls is short for another word. Just add “hit”). Sorry I got distracted.  Running of the bulls, also known as the Race for the President of the United States, is in full swing and it’s time to be perfectly clear about stuff that is impossible to be clear about.

Thus the title to this piece, My Political Views Contradict My Political Views.

I’ve been labeled a conservative but I have liberal leanings.

I often vote for Republican candidates, but more and more vote for Democrats and 3rd party folks too.

I believe that our governments has overstepped their authority and we should flush it away and start over.

Except, I fear the process that we have to do that will create a system worse than what we have now.

Very few people know the powers that are assigned to the Federal government versus the State and local governments.  And only a fraction understand the system of checks and balances that were set up a couple hundred years ago that gave certain powers to different branches of our Federal government and restricted their powers at the same time.

The Constitution of the United States and our current Federal government is actually the 2nd system that the original 13 colonies tried to live under after declaring our Independence 239 years ago.  Look it up if you are unaware of this.

The Constitution with the original 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights, along with the additional amendments that have been added since are the rules and laws that we as a United States of America are under no matter which of the 50 states we are in.   I live in Indiana.  If I travel east 20 minutes or less, I can be in Ohio.  While I am in Ohio, I am subject to their laws and the Constitutional laws of the United States.

We as Americans have demonstrated that we have a heart.  We want equalness and fairness for all.  But we have allowed our Federal government to overstep and to step on the individual states authority to make their own laws.

Do you know how 55 became the legal standard for a speed limit for most states for decades?  From Wikipedia: The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act was a bill in the U.S. Congress that enacted the National Maximum Speed Law. States had to agree to the limit if they desired to receive federal funding for highway repair. The uniform speed limit was signed into law by President Nixon on January 2, 1974, and became effective 60 days later, by requiring the limit as a condition of each state receiving highway funds, a use of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

Federal Funds. That is how many of the laws of the land get their power.  States must comply with Federal Laws to get their share of money from the Federal Government.

Where does the Federal Government get that money?  Some say they print it which is partially true, but in reality it is money that we as taxpayers pay that is then redistributed according to the the Federal Government.

Who decides how our Federal Government spends our money?  It was supposed to be Congress.  There is a budget process that hasn’t been followed for years and so we have renegade bills that are passed by Congress to spend money without having to make sure they have the income from our taxes to pay for the things they decide to buy.

So far I have written over 600 words and haven’t laid out those political views that contradict each other, so here we go:

Socialism and Capitalism.

The idea of sharing to prevent the less fortunate from suffering due to a lack of money is the good side of the concept of socialism.  It’s even biblical.  But we are to do this on our own, or via organizations that we choose.  Not because the government tells us to.  And the government is usually a poor steward of this redistribution.   So you can say I am against the idea of socialism by our Federal government.  But this is not entirely true.

We have created millions of dependents on Social Security as their means of getting by financially at retirement time.   We cannot stop.  As I get older and see friends and family who depend on Social Security as a primary source of income, I see that it has to continue.

Yes, there are opportunities for people to retire and live off their investments but less than 50% of retires have the ability to do that despite working for decades.  Some simply didn’t save.  Some lost their savings and investments. Social Security is a form of Socialism that I believe needs to stay and be supported.

The idea of having the freedom to own your own stuff and build and make a profit and hire others and pay them… this is the good side of the concept of capitalism.  But it can also create the opportunity for tremendous inequalities.  We have seen the stories of C.E.O.’s earning not just 10 times the pay of average employees in their companies, but 100’s times more.

This is ridiculous but to create more laws I think is overreaching.  I don’t have an easy answer for this.  I know plenty of company owners who are not like those that get all the bad press and the number of business owners who are fair and just outnumber those that are taking advantage of the system.

Which brings up the question about the “system”.  The “system” is our tax code.  On all levels, Federal, State and Local, it is jacked up to favor those know how to work the system, which is a minority.  We need to toss out the tax codes and implement a flat tax.  A flat tax that eliminates all the other taxes and only charges a consumption tax.

Here’s how that works:

When I go to the Firefly Coffee Shop in Fort Wayne, I pay a sales tax of 7%.  That sales tax is paid to the state of Indiana.   Under the Fair Tax System, every purchase is taxed at the same rate on a Federal level. States can set their own sales taxes like they do now and so can local governments according to their state laws.

In this Fair Tax scenario, let’s say the Federal tax is 10%, my Indiana tax is 7%, Allen County tax is 3% and Fort Wayne Tax is 2%.   My Total Tax is now 22% on my 5 dollar coffee and bagel. The owners at the Firefly buy all their supplies locally so they are subject to a 22% tax too on their wholesale costs.  Prices will rise accordingly but you know what?  Prices are already rising and we adjust accordingly.

Each of us earning our money from a “paycheck” will actually have more income to start with since we are not having income taxes withheld from each check.  And those big shot C.E.O’s who pay lower income taxes because of the structure of their compensation package includes stock options and investment income…  It would all be for naught since no one has their income taxed anymore, only what they buy.  And it is all at the same Federal rate without the loopholes that help the rich get richer while keeping those in poverty, in poverty.

Property taxes would be outlawed too and what I (and others) see as bribery or blackmail at the state and local level in the form of tax abatements for businesses would disappear too.

Another subject: Health Care.  Just read what I wrote here.

Immigration, another hot topic.

The compassionate side of me wants everyone to be a citizen and have the same rights I do as a white guy born in this country.

The conservative side of me wants the border secure. Canada and Mexico, both land borders need a fool proof way of keeping the bad people out.  This is more possible than our politicians say and we need to stop the mismanagement that has been going on for decades.  This is not a Republican or Democrat stance, it is a security issue and now more than ever, we need this as the treats against us continue to multiply.

What about those that are here already?  If they are here illegally, they are more than undocumented, they are illegal and some form of punishment needs to be applied.  If I drive 70 in 40 mile per hour speed zone and am caught, I pay the price.  If  I am caught doing a more serious crime, I pay the price.

I don’t know the price for illegal immigrants. I don’t live on a border state and so I don’t see first hand the way this has changed where I live or visit.  In my city I know we have illegal immigrants who live and work here and they are not being paid fairly or will ever be given the same opportunities that I have as a citizen.

Donald Trump created a stir when he claimed that illegals from Mexico are bad people doing bad things.  Being the “Donald”, he has a right to say that.  Illegals who are in this country protesting his comments do not have a right to protest in this country because they are here illegally.  That sounds so unfair, but it is also accurate.

Donald Trump is brash and will stir up support for his agenda but his campaign rhetoric and promises won’t fly under the constitutional limits we have for the President.  However, like I said earlier, we have too many people in this country who don’t understand the separation of powers, and that allows him to gain support.

Somehow we need to:

  1. Stop the flow of illegals coming into this country.
  2. Offer a pathway to citizenship to those who are willing to be “law abiding and productive” citizens.
  3. Deport the rest.

And this needs to be done in that order too.

 

Foreign Relations is a subject that ranks lower on the list of priorities for voters, but we need to identify and support our allies, get our troops out of old war zones and stop sending aid to countries that want to harm us.   Easier said than done, I know.

National Minimum Wage.  Sure, raise it, but don’t expect it to raise people out of poverty.

Gun Control, Race Relations, and Religious Freedoms.  These are all spelled out in the Constitution and yet the media focuses on the worst when tragedies occur.  We get over-reaction, a lot of talk and then next to nothing.   We don’t always need more laws, we need changes in behavior, in attitudes and in our hearts.

Other issues that we should care about include abortion, voter apathy and what we can do as individuals to have an impact.

You are unlikely to have an impact on the presidential race except for the opportunity to cast your one vote.

You can however have an impact on the things you care about in your community if you get involved.  Start by becoming informed.  Like I did last month at that meeting of people who were invited to hear about the local environment.

 

If We Could Start Over Again… Health Care

I was listening to the reaction from both sides of the political debate on the Affordable Care Act a few minutes ago as I was driving from one end of Fort Wayne to the other.

The topic was the Supreme Court ruling announced today that the current practice of allowing people who are enrolled in an insurance plan that was purchased through the Federal government to receive subsidies from the government that lowers the out of pocket cost of their health insurance premiums.

Quite frankly, I am tired of it all.

If we could start over again, I would want to find the time in history that health insurance was not the vehicle that we used to pay for our health care.  There was a time when you visited your doctor and paid him or her for the services they provided.  It was an honest transaction without the jacked-up prices and game playing that we have now where a hospital charges.  Here’s a bill from 40 years ago for having a baby:

HQD6EFC

Two years ago CNN published this story saying the cost is now between $18,000 and $27,000.  After insurance the family is still left with $3400 to pay.

If health care expenses only rose at the pace of inflation, I’m betting that the bill would be $3400 or less, not the $18,000+ figure.

However, an industry was created that has gone overboard, the health insurance industry.  They, along with the medical industry have created this, well,  I’ll call it a con game.  They have conned us into believing that health insurance and health care are both necessary and our right to have.  All the while they play this price game of inflated prices and fat cat profits for the insurance executives and the medical community executives.  The consumers who pay the premiums, co-pays and deductibles are powerless.  The individual health care providers, like the doctors and nurses are also powerless to a degree due to the “system” which is corrupt.

The free market system is what kept things competitive. The Affordable Care Act sales pitch that was presented was supposed to clean this up but instead it only has taken us further down the toilet.

While there are some good things in the law such as no lifetime caps on health insurance benefits and the requirement to offer a plan to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, it has not fulfilled it’s purpose as described in the name, Affordable Care.

It is too late to go back to what we had before this law.  This law is filled with compromises and special perks for some and not others… it is a mess.  The system we had before was messed up too, but not like this.

I was actually in favor of a revision of the health care and health insurance systems to a much simpler plan, a universal health insurance and health care system that is similar to other countries who have such a plan.

We are required to contribute a portion of our earnings into the Social Security fund.  In return we are able to get benefits when we are eligible due to our age or condition.  Instead of health insurance companies, we pay a health services tax in the same manner we pay into Social Security.

That’s where the money comes from to pay for our health care.  On the other end is the health care providers. These are the people (doctors and the like) along with the hospitals and institutions.  They are paid according to a set fee schedule that is determined by the government.

On one hand, this is scary as we’ve seen how the government is terrible at saving money or time or any number of things.  The V.A. scandal is still not fixed. But other countries seem to be able to figure this out and make it work.   Can we?

 

 

The Making of The President 2016: The Race Has Begun

I work in the media world.  Radio broadcasting and digital media.  But despite that disclaimer, I am not a fan of the way media handles political news.

My activity in radio these days is all on the advertising side.  My paid work in digital media is also related to marketing although I was a full time “Social Media Magician” for awhile.

The 24 hour news channels on TV have to fill their 24 hours and the talking heads will repeat stuff over and over again, giving their slant on the stories we just heard last hour from the previous host.  Is it any wonder that MSNBC is losing viewers?

Admittedly the radio talk show do the same for 3 hours each day, but interestingly we have enough people in Northeast Indiana that want to hear national talk show hosts, Rush, Glenn, Sean, and Mark to keep them on the air year after year.  The radio ratings for Beck and Limbaugh on WOWO radio show that they are the most listened to over the 20+ other radio stations in Fort Wayne.  Hannity and Levin are on in the evening and so their audience is smaller, but they get a respectable number of fans tuning in each week.

It’s April 2015 and finally the most recognized potential Presidential Candidates are making their intentions official.  Ted Cruz followed by Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.  The conversations will shift from speculation to reporting actual campaign activities.  But don’t worry, the commentary and editorial and opinion pieces will continue to be the meat and potatoes for the next 18 months or so.

Already the silly season has begun.  Headlines made a big deal out of a typo in a Hillary press release that made it sound like she hated women and children.  The missing word was for.  And we all knew it was an overlooked typo.  It’s not just silly, it is downright pathetic that this typo made it into the news.

Each of us have a voice and a vote.  Depending on when your state has their primary election next year, you may have one or two handfuls of candidates to choose from.  Come November 2016, you really need to vote, no matter who is on the ballot.  It’s your right and responsibility.

Regarding your voice.  You can speak face to face, you can speak online and you can speak with your time and money.

I won’t be giving money to any politician.  I’ll do my best to refrain from getting caught up in social media debates.  I may add a few comments about the Presidential race on this website.  I will describe what I want in a President. I will vote.

Hang on, once again, we are in for a bumpy ride to the White House.

Explaining the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Wow, what a firestorm, this whole RFRA business in Indiana.

The basic media outrage being spread by both traditional media and social media is: Indiana people (Hoosiers) and Indiana businesses now have a right to discriminate and deny service to anyone they find objectionable based on religious grounds.

This is not what RFRA does.

After spending too much time trying to convince non-Hoosiers, that the people of Indiana are not filled with homophobic bigots, I have decided to clarify and take you through the steps that this RFRA legislation provides.

Oh, and before we do that, I will acknowledge that there are plenty of homophobic bigots living in Indiana.  We also have racists.  JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER OF OUR 50 STATES.  But they don’t represent the majority of Indiana people, just like the nuts at Westboro Baptist Church do not represent the majority of Baptists, or the majority of the population of Topeka Kansas.

If RFRA is not a licence to discriminate, what is it? RFRA is only to be used in court cases as a defense for people who are being sued by someone who claim that they were treated unfairly (discriminated against) because of religious beliefs.

Let’s walk through this using the LGBT argument that is being spread.  “Bob & Bill” are wanting to marry and are needing various wedding services.  They want a professional photographer to shoot their wedding and all the festivities. So they visit “Main Street Wedding Photos” and make their request.  Here’s a few scenarios of what could happen:

  • The owner agrees, just as they requested. Why? Because the owner wants their business and has no issues with their request.
  • The owner tells them he is unable to fulfill  their request because he does not have the time and or capacity because he is already booked for the date and time.  If the owner is lying, he is guilty of lying and they may have a court case. But this not likely to win in court as it is hard to prove.
  • The owner tells them he is unable to fulfill their request because his religious beliefs are such that he can’t participate in a wedding between two homosexuals.  “Bob & Bill” will have to go to court to attempt to force the owner to take their money and photograph their wedding.  The owner can use the RFRA as his defense.
  • The owner tells them he is unable to full fill their request for whatever reason and recommends another wedding photographer.  “Bob & Bill” contact  another wedding photographer who agrees to their request. There is no court case since “Bob & Bill” were able to get their wedding festivities professionally photographed.

Now let’s take this in another direction with another example.

“Bob & Bill” own a custom bakery and they are gay.  “Susan” goes to their bakery and wants them to bake a couple of sheet cakes with the words, “Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve” in bright blue icing letters. “Susan” belongs to a Christian Womens Group and the cake is for an event they are having.

“Bob & Bill” can decide to take “Susan’s” money and fulfill her request.  Or they can tell her no, that would violate their beliefs.  If “Susan” wanted to take “Bob & Bill” to court, they could use RFRA as their defense and probably win. Odds are that “Susan” would simply go to another bakery and there would be no lawsuits.

One more scenario: “Robert” is pro-nazi and goes to “John” who is Jewish and is a printer.  “Robert” wants “John” to print 100 flyers for a rally that are pro-nazi.  If “John” declines to fulfill the print order, and he is threatened with a lawsuit, RFRA can be used as his defense as RFRA prevents the government from forcing “John” to print the flyers.

RFRA actually helps the proponents of separation of church and state by keeping the government from interfering in each of our religious beliefs.

Indiana Doesn’t Hate You

This month, Indiana’s Governor added his signature to a bill nicknamed “RFRA”.

As the bill made it’s way through both houses of the state legislature, the voices of opposition became more and more vocal and with the signing of the bill, it made national news and reaction.

But over the course of several hours of research and reading the bill, I have come to the conclusion that this is a whole bunch of protest about nothing.

Before you disagree, I ask, have you read the bill?

If so, do you know when the law goes into effect?

This two part question is a trick.

A trick to see if someone is telling the truth.

That they really read the bill, not just listened to the media coverage.

The bill is not an easy read, but it is brief and the answer is there.

Unless you read the bill, stop forming opinions and telling others what the bill/law does and doesn’t do.

I could put links to the bill, or to the multiple comments for and against this law, but I want you to do your homework.

Google RFRA .

I’m not even going to tell you what RFRA stands for.

Google it.  Do your research.  Read the source material on both sides.

I may write another update on this but I’m going to leave you with this simple statement:

Indiana Doesn’t Hate You, no matter who you are.

Now, go do your homework.

Your comments are welcome.

Less Hate, More Understanding, Please

The United States and most of the world would be a better place if there was less political posturing.

If we stopped looking for the things that we disagree with and instead looked for the things we can agree on.

I have a friend whose wife gave birth to their first born, a daughter on December 11th, my birthday, nearly a month ago. Today I was reading about how that little girl is fighting for her life.

This morning I bumped into a friend from my childhood and asked him about his family.  Matt mentioned his mom died in November and his Dad had passed away in 2013.  Not unexpected due to their age and declining health, but these two examples point out something.

We are never guaranteed a life on this planet.  For some it may last 80+ years.  Other lives can only be measured in days.

Fighting for good for others is admirable to a degree.  But if you are fighting and hurting others, it really isn’t worth it.

News this morning out of France mentioned more violence: Twelve people were killed in a terror attack Wednesday at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that has published controversial Muhammad cartoons.

Like the Sony hack and threats that were attempting to prevent the movie “The Interview” from being released last month, there was probably a bit of anger and revenge behind this killing.  From the news story linked above: “Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to one video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV.

Freedom of speech is something we value in the United States and it is protected in our Constitution.  However there are limits and while the killing in France cannot be justified, I see why they may have done this.

Look, evil and hate will be with us forever.  We can only do our part to not spread it and instead look for ways to draw us together to find solutions for everyone.  Let’s pledge to do that this year, okay?

Sony, North Korea and Stupidity

The alternate title of this piece would be, Yes you can but…

Sony Pictures was hacked and troves of stuff was accessed by the hackers.

The suspects are connected to North Korea according to the latest reports from the FBI.

Why did the North Koreans do this?

The reason being floated around is that they are upset that Sony is was planing on releasing a comedy flick about killing the leader of their country.

Apparently, Hollywood thinks this is funny.

Funny enough to make a movie and release it on Christmas Day and make a profit.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have backed the movie.  This was supposed to be a money maker, not an Oscar contender.

Now, Sony has backed off and has postponed the release of the movie.  That may change so keep an eye, ear or whatever you use to consume news alert on this stupid story.

The stupidity I want to point out is sitting in Hollywood.

We live in the United States of America where we still have the freedom of speech to make all kinds of statements.  And we sometimes cross the line in the name of humor.  That’s what a lot of comedy is about.  Saying out loud what we or others think.  It was Jerry Seinfield’s shtick along with lots of others.

But turn this around.

If some foreign country made a comedy based on killing our president, would we be laughing, or bothered?

And those of you who are radical enough to believe that is a good idea,  shame on you.  Grow up and stop being such as hater.

Anyway,  in this country we have the freedom to say nearly anything.  However if we make threats against someone, there could be an investigation which could lead to all kinds of trouble.

North Koreans don’t have the freedom of speech we have.

But their government leaders have access to nuclear weapons and other bad, bad things.  They also have been trying for years to gain some respect in the world.  Respect based on fear and power, sort of like a little bully.

If it is true that the North Korean Government hacked Sony and is now threatening the United States because of this movie, I don’t blame them.

Not that what they are doing is right, but what do you expect when you tease or threaten a bully?

Look at the motivations and mindsets again.

Sony just wants to make money.

North Korea just wants respect.

Someone should have vetoed the making of this movie before it was given the green light.

Sony is paying the price by being hacked and having all of their secrets revealed.

Yes the hackers should be prosecuted.

People should lose their jobs.  The people who allowed Sony’s security stay out of date and be “hackable”.

The people who made the move don’t need to apologize to North Korea.  But they probably should anyway.

That’s how Sony should wish the Koreans a Merry Christmas.