Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Friday, February 25, 2011

Equality under the Law is Dead in America

Equality Under the Law was a foundational principle for our country and the basis of modern western civilization. This is the principle that ascribes that each individual is subject to the same laws, with no individual or group having special legal privileges. No one is exempt or included more than another. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law." The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that all people will have "the equal protection of the laws." This basic principle, when applied, results in one of the other and interconnected foundational principles of western society; that a person is innocent until proven guilty. These two principles are what we call Justice.

This is not a new concept, the Bible is pretty clear saying “in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great.” The ancient Greek, Pericles, had this to say about the principle of Equality under the Law:
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors', but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition.

This is not a principle that liberals believe, practice, or promote. They rarely even pay lip service to this principle anymore. The notion of "equality before the law" was long ago abandoned by the left.

Explain why congress and the government are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, why they are exempt from OSHA.

Consider the special privilege that is granted to the NEA. This union organization is a 501c3 corporation. It is the only 501c3 corporation in the USA that is permitted to serve as a lobbying organization. It is is illegal for any other tax-exempt group to do what the NEA does. That is not equality under the Law.

Consider the current debate/fight over Gay Marriage. It only exists because we have given up on the notion of Equality Under the Law. Why should anybody be treated any differently under the law because of personal relationships with another which they voluntarily choose to participate? Why should any law treat any individual differently because of contractual obligations they have with another individual? The problem isn’t that homosexual couples don’t get the same benefits as heterosexual couples; it’s that we give heterosexual couples special legal privileges and punishments.

Consider Taxes; our current tax system is not just or equal. The tens of thousands of pages with special exemptions for some and not others, and special punishments for some and not others is far from just. The tax system tries to instill “fairness” not justice. What is just or fair or equal about taxing somebody at a different rate because they are in a contractual relationship than somebody who is not? What’s just or fair or equal about allowing a person to deduct the cost of their health insurance if they buy it through their employer but not if they purchase it directly?

A journalist or pastor would be rightly outraged if they had to petition for permission from a government bureaucrat in order to exercise their First Amendment rights. The constitutional phrase “Shall Not Infringe,” implies that prior restraint on the exercise of basic rights is not permissible. In our Republic the idea of basic rights are unalienable and not granted by the government, and the idea of Equal Rights under the law, prohibits the government from enacting laws that restrict or unalienable rights prior to abuse of those rights. That principle is thrown out by modern liberals who only believe that people should be able to do what the ruling elite say they should.

So consider the right to defend oneself, arguably a far more basic right than those of free expression or religious practice, is routinely constrained, restricted, or rejected. The fact remains that gun owners are denied equality under the law. The Second Amendment clearly and unequivocally states that the right to firearms "shall not be abridged," such forthrightness escapes those who feel uninhibited in passing more and more anti-self-defense laws.

This abandonment of the principles of Justice are a path towards tyranny. Where those in power grant special favors to those they want to reward, and punish those that don’t obey the tyrant. Consider Obamacare, where around 900 businesses are exempt, mostly unions and corporations who have donated to Obama and the Democrat Party, and explain how Obama granting some favored people the right to limit health care payouts and not others is Equality Under the Law. This and similar despotic laws, has and will continue to undermine the confidence that we the people have in government.

Our government was instituted to protect individual rights, and all laws should do that, and punish those who violate another’s rights. No reasonable person would disagree with that. But rather than work under that assumption, and the idea that laws are for justice, and that all individuals should be treated Equally Under the Law, the socialists and leftists over the past 125 years have worked on a different premises. The idea that because something might be abused, the government has the right to deny/restrict/regulate that thing for all people. This principle allows the aggregation of power with a few ruling elite. Liberty, freedom, justice, and equality under the law are principles that have been abandoned for this principle.

A crowbar is an effective criminal tool and deadly weapon, it can and often is used to destroy or facilitate the theft of private property, and can just as easily be used to intimidate, injure, or kill someone; because it is so effective and readily available, does that justify the government forcing all people who want to own and use a crowbar to have to get a permit to own one, and to have to keep it in a locked unusable condition when not in use, and to restrict where a law abiding citizen may possess one? Some of you reading this are actually thinking that maybe we shouldn’t allow just anybody to go down to the local hardware store and buy such an efficiently destructive and deadly device; 50 years ago the absurdity of restricting every persons’ right to own a crowbar because it might be used criminally would have been obvious. We have laws making vandalism, theft, destruction of private property, assault, intimidation and murder crimes. We do not need, nor should we allow government to create special laws restricting the rights of everybody to certain things because they might used to break other laws.

Accepting the pernicious principle that “because something might be abused, the government has the right to deny/restrict/regulate that thing for all people,” has lead those in power to abandon the principles we call Justice , and create more and more laws discriminating against innocent people in how they conduct their lives.

You may ask, how is creating a law that equally restricts everybody a violation of the principle of Equality Under the Law? The answer should be obvious, no potential rights violation justify laws that discriminate against innocent people in how they conduct their lives. It treats the innocent like a criminal. Does the fact that a hammer can be used to crush your skull, or a pillow could be used to suffocate you, provide the impetus to allow the government to take away your liberty to own unlimited sizes, numbers, and varieties of pillows? Our government needs to abandon its attempts to forestall every undesirable behavior or to punish all of us for the transgressions of the few.

Take the time to re-read our Declaration of Independence, where the purpose of our government is plainly stated. Our laws should deal solely and exclusively with real or imminent threats to our rights and our freedoms, that is, with those people who initiate direct or indirect violence against us. Any other approach on the part of those who craft our laws can only destroy what each of us equally deserves: the full and unrestricted protection of our liberty.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Problem Solving 101

I taught high school chemistry for a few years, virtually every high school science book has a section, sometimes a whole chapter on problem solving and the scientific method. Having come from the industrial world, not the teaching world, and realizing that very little of the Chemistry I thought would be remembered past graduation, I stressed one thing over and over, problem solving and critical thinking. I believe that these skills would be far more valuable for my students than remembering the atomic weight of carbon. If you google “4 steps to problem solving,” you will find a veritable tsunami of information. The basic 4 steps are Analyze, Plan, Execute, and Evaluate. These four steps may have different terms to describe them but in essence they are the basis of logical rational problem solving. Kids ask a lot of hard questions, often not about the subject you are teaching. As a teacher I often responded with “You are smart enough to figure that one out. Use your problem solving skills and think for yourself, what was tried before, what worked, what didn’t.”

The first step to solving any is always analyzing the problem. This involves correctly defining the problem. This should include what you know in as much detail as possible, historical information of similar or identical problems, previous solutions that worked and those that didn’t work, and what the expected or desired results to any actions you will plan for solving the problem. Most problems that keep getting worse not better are caused by two things; 1) incorrectly identifying the problem, and 2) failure to correctly evaluate the results of the plan executed to solve the problem.

Consider our economy and unemployment. We were told that the Obama’s plan to solve this problem was to raise the statutory national debt limit from $12.4 trillion to $14.3 trillion and for the government to spend the borrowed money, that the execution of this plan would keep unemployment at or below 8%, and would stimulate a recovery. Thirteen months ago this plan was put into place. No rational or reasonable evaluation of the execution of that plan can recognize any benefit, the only results seems to be more debt for every man, woman, and child in the nation, less jobs, and inflation. There is no evidence that the increase in the statutory national debt limit was of any benefit.

Obama’s plan is not in error, nor is his execution of that plan. Like most solutions that fail the problem was not correctly identified and the evaluations of past solutions to similar or identical problems were not considered. We have an out-of-control federal budget. This is a symptom not the problem. We have a cultural problem, which has manifested itself in a selfish desire to have what we want, when we want, even if we can’t afford it, and if we can’t afford it we want our guardian to pay for it. In an adolescent we call this a lack of maturity. If your friend consistently asks to borrow money, is always broke, but spends his money on beer and the horse track, you don’t assume he has a budget problem, but a problem of priorities and character. Would you continue to lend him money? When he tells you he has a sure thing on a horse named Clementine and wants you to give him more money what do you tell him? Do you tell him to quit spending on the beer and lend him more for the ponies? What would your other friends say if you continued to give him money?

In reality, unlike what some in the news and major political parties would tell us, raising our statutory national debt limit will not cause us to default on the national debt. To make this understandable, consider what you think would work if you had too much credit card debt. If you have a credit card and are barely able to make the monthly interest payments on it, will raising your credit limit and charging more purchases to the card make it more likely or less likely that you will eventually be forced to default on your credit-card debt? No reasoned analysis of the execution of past plans which increased our national debt and spending can conclude that those plans are effective in solving our economic problems.

We must pressure all of our leaders in Washington and hold them accountable. 70% of all Americans agree, we should not increase the federal debt. Reasoned evaluations of past plans implemented clearly demonstrate that the Democrats in Washington will not reduce federal spending as they have promised. The only bargaining chip the GOP has is to not compromise and not vote to expand the federal government. The Republicans have the ability to stop increased federal spending, just vote no on raising the statutory national debt limit. Reasoned evaluations of past actions clearly demonstrate that the Republicans in Washington will capitulate to the Democrats. We as citizens must pressure them to change their past actions, as they have repeatedly proven not to work.

Any high school student who received decent grades in their science classes, could analyze the problem, look at the history, and evaluate the execution of past plans, and conclude that doing the same thing that failed in the past will not result in any different outcome. Logic, reasoning, and problem solving skills are not strong points of liberals in Washington. Liberals rely on emotion and feelings not reality; the reality is we cannot afford to permit an increase in the statutory national debt limit while at the same time spending more on multiple military occupations, being worldwide policeman, aid to foreign governments, bailing out bankrupt financial institutions and massive income transfers from wage earners and entrepreneurs to the elderly, poor and other unproductive classes.

The problem is not the budget; the problem is our elected officials will say and do anything to keep their power; the economic health of the nation is not a problem they will address if it does not increase their power or chances of re-election. Protecting the liberty and interests of the people is not a goal of the Democrats or Republicans, thus their plans and how they are executed are designed to make the politician more electable and garner more power, not to solve America’s problems. Taken in this context, their plans have been successful, the proof is that they, the politicians, continue to gain power and get re-elected, while depriving we the people of liberty and putting us further into debt.

We the people are applying basic problem solving skills to the economy. We have analyzed the problem, and created some plans which we started to execute last November, when we kicked out a lot of incumbents of both parties. We have clearly indicated that part of our plan to get out of the financial trouble we are in is to first stop spending borrowed money; indicated by 70% of us who don’t want the debt ceiling raised. If we expect the government to do our bidding so we must keep up the pressure and let Washington know that, we will not accept the execution of same failed policies, like borrowing and spending to solve a debt problem. Let everybody in congress and the senate know that your plan is to vote out anyone who votes to raise the statutory national debt limit.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

High Speed Rail - Letter to Nelson & Rubio

CC:Gov. Rick Scott,
Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos
Florida Speaker Dean Cannon
Feb 18, 2011

Dear Senator Nelson:

I am an active member of the Libertarian Party and a voter in Florida. I applaud Gov Scott's decision to reject billions of federal dollars to build a high speed rail in Florida. The governor rightly cited the inevitable cost overruns and over-optimistic ridership projections as factors in his decision to protect Floridian's pocketbooks.

Of the $2.4 billion dollars allocated to Florida for this project, $1.6 billion is "Stimulus" monies. This is money that the United States does not have as our nation is currently running a deficit (spending more money than it takes in) while it carries a debt of over $14 trillion dollars. Each taxpayer's share of this debt is in excess of $127,000! To keep up this level of spending, the government has to either print more money which causes inflation, or borrow from foreign countries like China that come with large interest payments that add to the deficit and debt. Either way these options are unacceptable and very simply the spending has got to stop!

I am deeply concerned, however, that hours after Gov Scott informed Sec of Transportation Ray LaHood of his decision, that you Sen Nelson, called LaHood to tell him that you were consulting lawyers with a plan to circumvent the Governor's decision. This rogue action on your part and others is contrary to the constitutions of the United States and of the State of Florida. Supreme executive power of the State of Florida is vested in the Governor's office, not the Senator's. It is Governor Rick Scott who is the chief administrative officer of Florida, not Bill Nelson. It was Governor Scott who was elected on a platform of reform in November, not Sen Bill Nelson.

Florida citizens passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 to renounce the development of high speed rail by the state. President Obama has a vision for high speed rail in Florida which is in direct conflict with the will of Floridians. We do not want the president's vision of transportation imposed upon us. High speed rail is to transportation as Obamacare is to healthcare. I urge you to stop meddling in this matter, and instead focus on how you are going to stop spending and get our country back in fiscal order. I urge you to reach across the aisle and join the freshmen Senators elected with a mandate in 2010 to stop the wasteful spending and to stop the practice of legislation by regulation and adjudication.

Last November, the People spoke loud and clear that they are tired of the out of control spending. This project is full of pork and will not help create jobs. As a Libertarian Party member, I will remember who fought for the people in November 2012!

Karl Dickey
Director At Large
Libertarian Party of Florida

Friday, February 18, 2011

Patriot Act

Rand Paul sums up the betrayal of the people by the Republicans, again, very well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

Oops! We’re far worse than we thought; official numbers released yesterday show that last year’s budget deficit will be larger than previously projected, not $1.4Trillion but $1.65Trillion. The truth is we are actually worse off, because that $1.4Trillion does not include the unfunded off-budget items like bailouts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, student loans, and other stuff the press and government aren’t telling us. The actual debt of the US is around $20.7 trillion. Do some simple math and you see that for each and every one of the 310 Million people in the US there is a $69,000 bill that must be paid. Ouch! It’s worse than that as only about $100 million of us are wage earners paying income and social security taxes, the rest are unemployed, children, or senior citizens. That means that every person earning a wage has to repay just over $2,000,000.

By law the US cannot go much if any further into debt without a new law extending the US Debt Ceiling. The latest poll from Investor’s Business Daily shows 70 percent of Americans opposed to raising the debt limit. “Even a majority of Democrats — 55% — say raising the limit is a bad idea. Some 86% of Republicans and 74% of independents agree.”

Now about that elephant in the room, it’s not the stupidity of borrowing more money when the amount owed by every man woman and child in the country far exceeds the ability of wage earners to repay. It’s not that congress is acting against the will of over 2/3rds of the populations. It’s that Republicans hold all the cards. I wish it was us libertarians but it’s not it’s the GOP. They can stop all new deficit spending without any help of the Democrats right now. In fact all the power is in the control of the Republicans in the house.

Although Rand Paul is talking some serious cuts in the budget, most of the reality about “cuts” is not actually about “cuts” but about a slowing of the expansion in spending. Just look at Obama’s proposed budget. In truth because of the big majority the Republicans have in the house all they have to do is vote NO on extending debt ceiling and the government will be forced to cut spending. You are going to hear lots of scare tactics from the Democrats and Republican leadership, as to why we must allow the government to go deeper into debt. The fact is they don’t have to, they don’t have to expand the government is already too big. The GOP is in total control to stop the expansion of government, and can force the democrats to work with them on what must be really cut, not just rubber stamp expansion.

That’s the elephant in the room that the press, the GOP, and especially the Democrats won’t talk about. Republicans have the power to actually stop the expansion and possibly reduce the size of government NOW, not next year, next decade, but NOW. The question is will they? Since I don’t believe that there is any true difference between either the Democrats or Republicans, I can safely predict that the GOP will go along to get along and vote to expand government and put you and I further into debt.

Want to make me eat crow and prove me wrong? That's Easy. Contact every Republican congressman and let them know that you don’t want any further expansion of government, that you don’t want any more debt, that you want them to vote NO on raising the debt ceiling. If enough people do this and the will of the people is made clear to Washington, we can stop this mad raging elephant what continues to spend beyond our means.

Tom Rhodes, Vice-Chair Libertarian Party of Citrus County, 2/15/2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Betrayal, Principles, and the GOP

On Monday November 1, 2010 I wrote The Republicans Will Betray the TEA Party. When I was held down and asked to predict when this would first be proven, I said February 2011. I was right. I wish I wasn’t but I was. Republicans like the Democrats have only one principle, staying in power. The TEA Party was backed approximately 40 congressmen. Of those 31 voted to extend what are arguably unconstitutional provisions of the so called “Patriot Act.”

These votes are the beginning of the systematic betrayal of the TEA Party. Boehner will continue to work at expanding the Federal government following in Pelosi’s footsteps. He will use different rhetoric, but his actions will be to promote more government and reduce the liberty and freedom of individuals. The Republicans have in their power, to completely stop the excessive spending and expansion of government in Washington. All they have to do is vote no on extending the debt ceiling. This will force the government to cut back. They don’t need a single Democrat vote or a single vote in the senate of any kind. Just by refusing to vote for allow the government to go further into debt they can stop the growth of government. They will vote to expand government not hold themselves or any branch of government fiscally responsible.

The GOP talks of its principles but exactly what principles do the actions of their votes show: A spineless accommodation to Wall Street and the the military-industrial complex? Empty promises to “limit government” while voting for its expansion? Wrapping Corporatism in flowery patriotic rhetoric?

Take the GOP foreign policy, We’ve sent some $70Billion dollars to Egypt over the past few decades, only to find $40Billion of it in a dictators savings account. Could somebody in the GOP please explain why I’m going in to debt and placing my children and grandchildren into debt to make a dictator of a foreign country obscenely wealthy? Yes he was a “friendly” dictator, but billions of US dollars in his private account is hard to justify. We spent $14.3Billion supporting the governments of Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Columbia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Pakistan, the Palestine Authority, Peru, Russia, and Ukraine last year alone. Some would say that compared to our total federal budget it’s not significant, but that is more than the total social security payments for well over a million senior citizens.

The basic American principles that are associated with the GOP in recent history, are not actually practiced by the GOP. They play lip service to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but the principles that the Republicans actually practice, and the habits they have adopted in pursuit of their cushy Capitol Hill jobs, do not match their rhetoric. The GOP is the definition of hypocrite – talking “less government” while ever expanding it. Expanding government slower than the Democrats is not less government. They have never actually given us what they promise and have repeatedly betrayed those who vote for them. At least Obama is honest in his rhetoric, he won’t call himself a socialist, but he clearly says what he means, and he means to expand government, limit individual liberty, and punish those who are successful and redistribute the wealth so that nobody gets more than what he feels is fair (well accept for his friends and the elite who know what everybody else should do). He has said that the Constitution of the United States is a barrier to getting what he wants done, so ignores it. The Democrats under Obama are taking us down the wrong road, but at least they are doing what they said they would do. The Republicans, are taking us down the same road just at a slightly slower pace, and are lying about where we’re going.

The principles that made this country great: the rule of law, equal protection under the law, protection of individual unalienable rights, once called liberal, now called libertarian are the principles most Americans value. Both parties, the Democrats openly, and the Republicans covertly, are working at destroying those principles. Under those principles the people, have power and cannot be so easily oppressed, taxed, and used.

The Libertarian Party is the party of principle, more closely associated with the values of our forefathers than either of the “major” parties. Because it is a party of principle, the LP would and does lose elections and acceptance rather than compromise those principles. The LP is often mistaken as an anarchist or libertine organization that is an amoral haven for drug users and antisocial types. This is because it is a party of principle, foremost being that all people should be free to act as they wish so long as their actions do not infringe upon the rights of another, a principle which neither the Republicans nor Democrats believe in. Both believe that they have the right to dictate to the masses how they should live.

As I predicted the Republicans betrayed the TEA Party within a month of being in office. They have fairly successfully co-opted the TEA party. Because the TEA Party has no true leadership and is a true grass roots response of the people to too much government, I believe that the betrayal of the GOP provides an opportunity for the TEA Party, and all of America to take a fresh look at principles, and specifically the party of principle, the Libertarian Party.