Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ohio Senator introduces bill to help feds enforce immigration laws

Most Ohioans do not perceive illegal immigration to be a crisis in this state; so the pressure does not exist as it does in Arizona to take action on our own.

However, Ohioans want to see the laws enforced, so this may be a good approach to seeing that done. Following is the text of SB 98, introduced Feb. 23 by Sen. Jimmy Stewart (R-Albany):

To enact section 109.45 of the Revised Code to direct the Attorney General to pursue a memorandum of agreement that permits the enforcement of federal immigration laws in this state by law enforcement officers.

Section 1. That section 109.45 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:
Sec. 109.45. (A) The attorney general shall pursue a memorandum of agreement under the federal "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996," 110 Stat. 3009, 8 U.S.C. 1357(g), between the state of Ohio and the United States attorney general or the appropriate federal agency the United States attorney general designates, to permit the enforcement in this state of federal immigration laws, both criminal and civil, including the apprehension, detention, and investigation of illegal aliens located in this state.
(B) Any memorandum of agreement entered into pursuant to this section shall be signed on behalf of this state by the Ohio attorney general or as the memorandum otherwise requires.
(C)(1) The attorney general shall designate appropriate law enforcement officers to be trained in the enforcement of the relevant federal immigration laws as specified in the memorandum of agreement. Any law enforcement officer the attorney general designates to receive training shall be trained as specified in the memorandum.
(2) A law enforcement officer who is certified as trained in accordance with the memorandum of agreement shall enforce the federal immigration laws the memorandum specifies while performing within the scope of that law enforcement officer's authorized duties.
(3) No law enforcement officer shall enforce the federal immigration laws specified in the memorandum of agreement unless that law enforcement officer has received the training required in this section.
(D) The participation of any local law enforcement agency in a memorandum of agreement entered into by the attorney general is permissive.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Next Saturday: Nullify Now!

See the ad on the right sidebar. Free and reduced-price tickets are available for a limited time. Check the Nullify Now! website for details.

So whose money is it, really?

I'm talking about the money you make at work.

Is it really yours -- that money that you earned -- or is it the government's -- to give you an "allowance" after they have taken out all their taxes?

We say that it is ours, then act like it's theirs.

Priscilla Petty at The American Thinker expands on this idea in a piece that is well worth reading. Here's an excerpt that gives you the flavor:
How can any thinking business person plan ahead when politicians have taken away from them the ability to project business plans ahead?  How can a business prosper when business leaders must make business decisions based on potential ever-changing tax policy?  Politicians are so unknowing that they don't understand that stability of tax rules and of regulations is necessary for a system to work. Politicians fail to look at the whole system but focus on the pieces.  The business which does not take into account the vagaries and whims of today's U.S. government will not survive economically.
We have reached the point where we must take back what is rightfully ours.*

* Disclaimer: I am a public employee, but I am not referring to imagined public employee rights under collective bargaining. I am writing of the tax dollars we all pay.

Virtual buckeye to Charlie Earl on Facebook.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A small sign of the global revolution

We got a reader from Qatar, a sheikdom on the Arabian Peninsula, in the midst of unrest throughout the region. I hope the reader got some useful information and is using it wisely.

Location of Qatar (Google map)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Restoring the sawed-off bottom rungs

The Left would have you believe that libertarians don't care about the poor. In fact, the lot of most poor people has greatly improved since 1980, and that is something to be celebrated. That said, there are some constructive things we can do to give the poor a hand up. But they're not what our leaders would have you believe. Here are some recommendations by Steven Horwitz at The Freeman, published by the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education:
  1. Eliminate minimum wage and occupational licensure laws. They deny opportunity to those who need it most.
  2. Open public schools (especially in the inner cities) to competition. Let inner-city parents select the best schools for their children.
  3. End the drug war. It doesn't work, and doesn't help anyone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SB 5: A qualified endorsement

Let me begin by stating that I am a twenty-year state employee in Ohio. The State has been very good to me over the years, and I am grateful for the salary and benefits I have received. Some of those benefits do not exist in the private sector; including four extra paid holidays, longer vacation leave, and one of the last defined benefit pension plans out there. On the other hand, there is currently no opportunity for a state employee to be recognized for merit. In private enterprise, effective employees can easily be promoted or given bonuses. Neither is possible within state government. The only way a classified (non-managerial) state employee can receive a promotion is to take a competitive examination for an open position. In some job classifications, an employee may have to wait several years before such an opportunity arises. Since I was not a state employee prior to 1982, I cannot say to what extent these benefits have been due to collective bargaining.

Reaction to state efforts to abolish public employee collective bargaining has been strong and swift. On Thursday, some 13,000 state employees demonstrated at the Wisconsin state capitol in protest against their bill, and they occupied the state capitol overnight. Here in Columbus, about 2,000 state employees demonstrated during last Thursday and 5,000 today against Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), introduced by Sen. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro).

State employees have some justification for feeling that the General Assembly has laid recent budget crises on their backs. Salaries were cut by 3% in the current union contract (2009-2012). The State compensated through "cost saving days," which effectively give each employee two extra weeks of vacation. On the other hand, we need money to live, just like everyone else.

State employees are not responsible for the $8-$10 billion deficit, and eliminating all of our jobs would not resolve it. However, the problem is so serious that the Governor and the General Assembly have to look at all possible opportunities to cut. Raising taxes is not an option in Ohio. Our taxes are already very high by national standards, and clearly raise a barrier to economic growth. The 800-pound gorilla in the State budget is matching funds to the federal Medicaid program; but the only way the State can cut significantly in this area is to radically redesign, or even abolish, Medicaid – a sudden move that on the short term would be cruel to those who depend on it. Ohio state legislators might look into the proposal made by Florida State Senator Joe Negron to replace the federal Medicaid program with one that is much smaller and, if a waiver is not granted by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, unsupported by federal funds. While holding the promise of substantial efficiencies, such a proposal is likely to be politically dicey, even for Republicans.

I do not like unions. They are expensive (1½% of gross salary for dues or "fair share fee" doesn't sound like much, but experienced or highly-paid employees can easily fork over more than $1,000 a year). I disagree with most of the political positions taken by the union, and I find that relatively few employees actually use the grievance process. Unions also tend to create unnecessary tensions between employees and their managers. There are two union benefits extended to all employees that have worked well (and efficiently) for us: the benefits trust, which manages our dental and vision coverage (and some other optional insurance), and the Education Trust, which provides money for college education and training. However, the Education Trust has proven easy to abuse for non-job related training.

I have two problems with the bill: First, the bill calls for the Department of Administrative Services to define "merit based pay." While the Department of Administrative Services is clearly experienced on State personnel matters, it potentially opens a gap between the legislators' understanding of "merit based" and the Department's understanding of the same term. Merit based needs to be defined within the act, so everyone is on the same page, and so employees and the public can comment on that definition before it is imposed. Secondly, the State needs to think through the issue of employee training.

If the State uses this occasion to neglect training altogether – a common temptation in hard times – it will do itself, as well as its employees, a great disservice.  Particularly in information technology, when state employees are inadequately trained in current technologies, the State will be tempted to hire contractors at $150 per hour, when it could have had State employees doing the same work for less than half that, including all benefits. In recent years, the State has tended to under-budget by leaning on the Education Trust to finance any needed job-related training. The State should learn from the experience of large private corporations to develop a usable just-in-time training model.

I should note here that the bill does provide for a grievance procedure using a State Personnel Board of Review, so workers will not be completely thrown to the wolves when problems arise. In addition, classified state and local employees will continue to enjoy civil service protection from political pressure. This should allay concerns for those with bad workplace situations. While I have been blessed with good supervisors, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that petty tyrants are all too common in state government.

SB 5 does not address pension reform, but it is true that some public employees (principally in law enforcement) have had the State furnish up to 24% of their salaries for pensions in addition to the percentage withdrawn from employee salary. (Private enterprise typically handles pensions by offering a matching contribution up to about 3% of an employee's salary for deferred compensation. For employees under the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State pays 14% of employee salary, with the employee contributing another 10%.  Under HB 69, the State's contribution would decrease to the same amount as the employee contribution (10% for most employees). The pension includes a partial payment for medical insurance in retirement, the remainder to be covered by the retiree out of pocket).

Bottom line: the State employment system under collective bargaining is not fiscally sustainable, just as the automobile and steel industries were unable to maintain their union contracts. State employees are not giving up any "rights" that the great majority of workers in the State of Ohio would recognize. We are giving up a few privileges – privileges that the taxpayers of this state can no longer afford to support.  I favor SB 5 because it is necessary, even though it will work against my short-term personal interest. However, I would like to see the General Assembly add the safeguards mentioned here to provide employee growth opportunities and to offer a minimal level of protection from managerial favoritism.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Florida considering withdrawal from federal Medicaid program

For most states, Medicaid is the most crippling financial burden that they face. What if the states could tell the feds to keep their money and still run a program less expensively? The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville reports that State Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) is suggesting just that:

The statement by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, underscored how serious members of the Senate say they are about reining in costs of the program, which provides health-care for low-income patients. Medicaid is expected to cost the state more than $22 billion in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

While Negron shied away from the phrase "opt out," he was apparently referring to a provision of the federal law that allows states to leave the program altogether.

"If the federal government elects not to allow us to manage the program the way we believe is in Florida's best interests, then we'll operate our Medicaid program with our resources," Negron said.

If the state were to leave the Medicaid program, it would lose all federal funding, which covers more than half of the current system's bills. Negron said the state would use its own portion of projected Medicaid spending to provide what benefits it could, giving priority to "those on Medicaid that we believe are the most vulnerable and need the most assistance from us."

Negron stressed that he believes it was unlikely that the federal government would reject a waiver to institute the new plan. But he said the bill set to be rolled out Thursday would contain provisions that would limit the program to the what the state could fund if the federal government said no.

"We can't allow the federal government to commandeer our budget," he said.

Idaho House passes health care nullification bill

The Tenth Amendment Center has announced that the Idaho House of Representatives has passed a health care nullification bill (H0117) on the Tenth Amendment Center's model by a vote of 49-20. Idaho doesn't mince words, as this excerpt will show:

(1) The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, P.L. 111-152, 124 Stat. 1029 (2010), herein collectively referred to as PPACA, having been declared unconstitutional by this Legislature, beyond the delegated powers of the federal government, and affirmed as such by the Court in State of Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Case No. 3:10-cv-91-RV/EMT (January 31, 2011, N.D.FL), shall not be enforced by the state of Idaho including, but not limited to, any of its departments, political subdivisions, courts, public officers or employees thereof.

(2) No department, agency or political subdivision of 1 the state of Idaho shall establish any program, promulgate any rule, policy, guideline or plan or change any program, rule, policy or guideline to implement the PPACA.

(3) No department, agency or political subdivision, public officer or employee of the state of Idaho shall enter into any agreement or any obligation to implement the PPACA.

(4) No department, agency, political subdivision, public officer or employee of the state of Idaho shall provide assistance or resources of any kind to any agency, public official, employee or agent of the federal government related to any attempted implementation or enforcement of the PPACA.

(5) No department, agency or political subdivision of the state of Idaho shall accept or expend moneys related to the implementation of the PPACA.

(6) No order of judgment, writ or levy of execution shall issue or otherwise be enforced upon any property or against any person in the state of Idaho to collect any amounts adjudged due or assessed against the state of Idaho or its residents for failure to comply with any provision of the PPACA.

(7) Any aggrieved person shall have a right to injunctive relief against any person violating the provisions of this section, with an award of attorney fees and costs to the prevailing party.

Ohio has three bills in committee, all of them much weaker than Idaho's. They are summarized here, along with The Ohio Project's Constitutional amendment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You don't have to be right-wing to favor nullification

In fact, being a "progressive" can be an advantage, as Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center writes for the Los Angeles Daily News:

While the rhetoric coming from many on the right these days includes words like "nullification," and "state sovereignty," it has been the left, not the right, which has been successful in putting these ideas into practice. And, California has been at the forefront since the beginning.

When Californians voted to approve Proposition 215 to allow medical marijuana, the word "nullification" was not part of the argument, but it most certainly was the result. Opponents often cited the Constitution's "supremacy clause," saying the state had no authority to violate federal marijuana laws. But, Californians voted to violate those laws by the millions. And, when the Supreme Court ruled in the 2005 Gonzales v. Raich case that state-level medical marijuana laws were, in essence, illegal, dispensaries around the state didn't start closing shop. 
In fact, by 2005, there were nine other states that had joined California in passing medical marijuana laws. After the supremes told the country that such laws were a big no-no, how many were repealed? Zero. And since then, another five states - most recently, Arizona - have joined up. 
Freedom is for everyone, not just the so-called "wingnuts" on the right. Nullification is the way to protect that freedom within the system when conventional political processes fail.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

State senator says South Carolina should create its own currency

Stephen Largen at (a service of the Spartanburg [SC] Herald-Journal) reports that State Senator Lee Bright (R-Roebuck) is introducing what we in Ohio would call an "honest money" resolution, requiring the use of gold or silver in payment of taxes. Sen. Bright is concerned that monetizing the national debt through the Federal Reserve will lead to "debilitating consequences," and thus favors a backup plan for South Carolina.

Phil Bailey, chairman of the South Carolina Senate's Democratic caucus was quick to scoff at the legislation; and even the tone of Mr. Largen's article sounds like "there Sen. Bright goes again, preaching secession."

However, we do need to start thinking more independently, and Honest Money is one way we can protect ourselves short of secession. So far, no such legislation has been introduced into either house in the Ohio General Assembly.

Imagining freedom

For most of us, this is hard to do, but Lesley Swann at the Tenth Amendment Center paints a clear picture, imagining what Patrick Henry would say if he had to live in our day. Following is an excerpt:

“If you want to control the future, you must strip the next generation’s ability to imagine anything different.” – Ernie Hancock
We Americans have become so conditioned to accept whatever our government throws at us in the name of “safety” that we have completely forgotten what it is to live free and be secure in our persons. Our lives are so filled by surveillance cameras, worries about terrorism, fears about food safety, fears about illegal drugs, and other issues that we have forgotten the basics of our republic’s founding. As Mr. Hancock’s statement points out, if we can no longer imagine what it is to be free, then our future is going to be one where we lose more and more of our freedoms to the surveillance of the nanny state. Patrick Henry didn’t give his impassioned speech demanding “give me safety, or give me death.” He was prepared to give up safety and in fact his very life when he said:
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
What would Patrick Henry say if he had to go through airport security today? I imagine some TSA agents and all Americans present would get a very fiery and passionate earful about allowing the freedoms that he and the rest of our Founders fought so hard to gift us to waste away. Just as we imagine Patrick Henry giving TSA agents a tongue lashing, we also have to start imagining the world in which we want to live just as Mr. Hancock pointed out. This is not easy, as quite frankly, it’s a world in which most people alive today have never lived. It was a world in which our Founders had never lived either, but they dared to imagine a different world and worked to bring their imagining to reality. Thanks to them, that world existed here once, and it can again. Like our Founders, we must imagine that world and work to make it happen at all levels of government – federal, state, and local.
I will be helping this along with my book, Governing Ourselves (preview), which I hope to get published this summer.

Quotation of the day

"Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country."
-- Rep. Ron Paul at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 10, 2010

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Decentralist Manifesto

We need a new world order. Capitalism is broken.  We must return power to the people!

The solution is not a hierarchical global order with a single world government. We don’t need two hundred nations – we need two thousand nations, each respecting the human and cultural freedom of its people, each minding its own business. 

You say no one can manage two thousand nations. 

You’re right, and that’s the whole idea. We don’t need world government, we need world networks, that enable people in those two thousand nations to link up for specific purposes when it is to their mutual advantage to do so. Networks of trade, of information, of sharing cultures. Networks to extradite criminals, to keep dispersed families in touch, to solve problems. Networks that everyone participates in, but no one owns.

Idealistic? Perhaps, but “with no vision, the people perish.” *

Capitalism isn’t inherently evil, but it has been corrupted from years of large corporations buying favors from governments. We need to stop losing ourselves in corporate and governmental bureaucracies. Instead, we need to look within ourselves to solve problems locally through citizenship and entrepreneurship. We need to restore a system in which government grants no privileges, and creates no roadblocks except as necessary to maintain public safety.

We don’t need big banks – we need honest money – money that is a store of real value and is accessible to all people.

We don’t need religious theocracies, but we do need, within each of us, faith in God that we can do good according to His purposes.

We don’t want other people telling us how to live, so why do we let a bureaucrat in Washington (let alone in some faraway land) tell us what we can eat, drive, or do with our own money, or what medical care we will be allowed to get?

We need to create governments, churches, schools, and businesses that are built on a human scale – that we all understand and can influence. We need to make laws we can understand and respect, then respect the laws we make.

Our new world order wants nothing to do with empires or imperialism; so those who share this vision must work through their local councils and state legislatures. We must take some risks by starting our own businesses and avoiding those who help enrich other countries at our expense. We must help our neighbor in need through our churches and community chests, and stop depending on government to do our giving for us. We must raise and educate our children in the values that will make them strong and independent. Charity – and prosperity, sound government, and proclaiming the truth – begin at home, so let us begin there. Every community that embraces these values will find others like it. Together (independently, but in cooperation), they will move states. States will move nations, and nations will change the world.

People of the world, cooperate! You have nothing to lose but your humanity!

*  Proverbs 29:15 kjv

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Inglourious basterds

AlterNet, via The Liberty Voice, reports that Hosni Mubarak is far from the only -- or even the worst -- dictator supported by the United States government. Some of the others pocket billions of earnings from their countries' oil deposits, boil opponents to death, and allow their minions to molest young women, but stay on our good side by buying Boeings for their air forces.

The article is well worth reading, but if you are easily sickened, you might want to take a Tums or Zantac first.

And then we wonder why people in other countries hate us, even to the point of wanting to commit terrorism. Or why some of us think Ohio independence might be a good idea...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A survey of Ohio's nullification efforts

The Tenth Amendment Center has published a piece of mine that summarizes the Ohio Project and the three proposals before the Ohio General Assembly to nullify federal health care. I invite you to read it on their site.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lame Ducks and the Seventeenth Amendment

My good friend and Ohio blogger Brian at Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment writes an interesting analysis of how Congressional "lame duck" sessions work, paying particular attention to the ambitious agenda pursued by the lame duck session of the last Congress. He points to Progressivism as the engine that made such a session possible, in contrast to past practice, in which ethical considerations generally made such sessions relatively inactive.

There is another interesting point that Brian did not explicitly mention: Repealing the Seventeenth Amendment would reduce the motivation for aggressive action during the lame duck sessions. Senators, while limited to six-year terms, served essentially at the pleasure of their state legislatures. Since they were not directly accountable to the people, they knew they (or their successors) would still have to consider the interests of their state. Therefore, the changes from one election to the next at the Senatorial level would be less pronounced. Items that the House pushed through in the heat of passion would surely be delayed or at least given more sober consideration by the Senate.

Lame duck sessions expose the downside of democracy. Having a Senate that is elected by the state legislatures is admittedly undemocratic, but paradoxically is better able to preserve free government. I think this is a good tradeoff.

Friday, February 4, 2011

How independence could help Ohio's budget crisis

I have thought this for some time, but Russell Longcore at Dump DC says it better. It is short, so I am quoting it in full:

The Bankruptcy of American Colony/States
We all know that Washington’s government is broke. But nearly every colony/state of the Union is also in desperate financial trouble. They have nearly all spent profligately. But their underfunded pension obligations are going to sink them aside from too much spending. And Federal law doesn’t permit colony/states to declare bankruptcy.

I just want to point out that if a colony/state seceded from the Union to become a nation once again, it would likely shed enough Federal debt and Federally-mandated spending that it could balance its budget once again. And now the new nation would not be subject to Federal bankruptcy laws. That doesn’t mean it should stiff its creditors, but it could facilitate restructuring and payment of its obligations.

Also remember the old saying…”The thinking that got us here will not get us where we want to go.” There will need to be an entirely new group of leaders who move away from the republic to secession and new nationhood.
Mr. Longcore also has a link to The Daily Beast has an article about colony/state bankruptcy that he strongly recommends, to show how bad your state is doing. It measures relative bankruptcy by the ratio between state debt and state Gross Domestic Product. By that measure, Ohio is doing relatively well. Despite our $8 billion budget deficit, which The Daily Beast understates as $3 billion, our $27 billion of state debt against $471.3 billion of Gross Domestic Product (both 2009 figures) gives us a debt/GDP ratio of 5.93%, ranking us 44th of the 50 states in debt burden.* Our unfunded pension and retirement health care liabilities total $46.5 billion.

Some people ask why we would want independence and lose all those federal funds. They are not thinking clearly. All of those federal funds would be available to Ohio government. Well, then, how about the fact Ohio is getting $1.05 from Washington for every dollar it sends there? **  Vermont secessionist Frank Bryan has a good answer for that: "Would you rather have $10,000 to spend any way you want, or $10,500 that you have to spend as I say?" ***

* Rhode Island, with a ratio of 19.19% was first, Nebraska (2.91%) was 50th.
** Tax Foundation "Federal Spending Received per Dollar of Taxes, FY 2005,"  Federal Fiscal Year 2005 (ending Sept. 30, 2005) is the latest year available.
*** Quoted in Bill Kauffman, Bye Bye Miss American Empire (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010), p.233, adapted to Ohio's ratio.

Whose interest should we be protecting?

One of my friends in Facebook has a discussion thread that has turned into an emotional conflict relating to U.S. policy toward Israel in the face of the uprising (current and anticipated) in the Middle East.

I have argued for neutrality: both sides have suffered much, and both have much to answer for. While the Palestinian terrorism issue is well known in this country; it is less well known that Jewish terrorism, through the Irgun and the Lehi (Stern Gang) enabled the creation of the State of Israel through forced evacuations of Palestinians on May 15, 1948, a date the Palestinians call Al-Naqba (The Catastrophe). More recently, Israel has attempted to follow the old apartheid South African policy of splitting the West Bank into "Bantustans," making it difficult for Palestinians to travel from one area to the next. In so doing, they are making it impossible for the Palestinians to develop their economy.

I mention this not because I am biased in favor of Palestine, but because the Palestinian side of the story is generally suppressed in the United States. I am neither anti-Semitic, nor am I particularly anti-Zionist; but we cannot have peace without justice, and that justice must be applied to both sides of the conflict.

All of this is preface to my main question, which is this: At a time when the United States is financially bankrupt and militarily exhausted from two lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose interest should we be pursuing in the Middle East, ours or Israel's?

I suggest that an American military intervention on behalf of Israel is not in our national interest. I understand that Israel has been a good friend and trading partner to the United States; but Israel is a nuclear power, and has proven in five wars over 63 years that it can defend itself. Those who worry about Middle East oil might consider that such an intervention is a sure way to alienate the Arabs who own it for generations to come. After all, they can always sell it to China and India instead of to us.

More importantly, we have to start taking care of ourselves. If Americans want to keep the Union together (not necessarily a desirable goal, but just sayin'), we will have to start asking ourselves what foreign policy will really protect the lives, liberties, and property of our own people. Not the multinational corporations or Wall Street banks, but of the American people, whose consent is required to govern.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The legality of nullification

A frequent commenter to this blog, Robert Barga, brings up an interesting objection to nullification in his comment on "Health Care Ruling, Victory or Trojan Horse?" (Feb. 1). Mr. Barga, who is an Ohio resident studying law in Connecticut, writes:
Here's the thing, I think that the court will find that this is an allowed action on Congress. If growing your own wheat for your own use is interstate commerce, then healthcare clearly is (right or wrong, this is how i see the court ruling)

Furthermore, I don't really see how nulification could work. While an argument over the right of it is interesting, the court has made it clear that the state's dont have the right to do that (see several cases prior to the 1860s, most after are clear cause of that war thingy).

Here is my response:
You are looking at nullification from the perspective of the American legal system and normal legal procedure. From that perspective, you are correct; and there are many reasons why a court, especially a federal court, would not want to uphold the right of nullification.

Nullification respects the rule of law, but is an extraordinary legal procedure. The Constitutional Convention itself is an example of a situation which respected the rule of law, but which was outside the legal system as it was understood at the time. You will recall from history that the legal process in 1787 would only admit of amendments to the Articles of Confederation.

I suggest that there is a continuum: Normal legal process on one end, followed by nullification and secession, with the right of revolution on the other end. Nullification is a state's recourse when the court system has persistently failed to consider the state's Constitutional rights. If nullification persistently fails, then the state may proceed to declare its independence. And God help us all if we have to resort to the right of revolution (as witnessed by recent events in Tunisia and Egypt). Nullification and secession respect the rule of law, by following accepted legislative and electoral procedures. Revolution is completely outside the law, and should only be resorted to in the most desperate circumstances.

To completely reject nullification and secession as acceptable options is to say that the states, as states, have no rights not granted to them by the federal government. This is completely contrary to what the Founding Fathers intended.

I wish we could turn this thing around by electing a more libertarian Congress and President, who would appoint more libertarian judges. But the experience of the last 80 years has shown that our political system is so corrupted that we cannot depend on the normal legal process to make the necessary changes.

Nullification and secession are safety valves that in this country should ensure that revolution will not be necessary. 

I might add, in response to his comment about "the war thingy," that war itself is outside the rule of law, so I cannot understand why anyone would use it as a legal precedent; even though many writers do exactly that with the War of 1861.

The politics of racism

From Champion of Liberty Elizabeth Wright in her Issues and Views sidebar:

Racism is not "sin"

Over the years, as whites have worked to defend themselves against the charge of "racism," they have validated this slur by giving it greater importance than it deserves, and thereby helped to institutionalize it as the world's greatest "sin." As to genuine sin, harboring negative thoughts concerning some group is much further down the list of human deficiencies than bombing Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden and Hamburg, or hacking to death with machetes the men, women and children of an enemy tribe. Now, those are sins! Seeking to force "diversity" down the throats of an unreceptive segment of society is the religious mission of rabid, agenda-driven ideologues. None of this apparent concern for "social justice" has ever been about virtue. It's about power.

Note that the headline is Ms. Wright's, not mine.

Follow the link to "It's about power" and read that post with its comments. The racial situation in this country is not what we are told. I have many coworkers and a few friends who are black, and most of them think more like Elizabeth Wright than like the so-called "civil rights" leaders.

If we think at all for ourselves, we are individuals, not puppets of groupthink. Those who find power in the status quo actually demean everyone by trying to force individuals into arbitrary groupings (and anyone who attempts to find a scientific basis for "race" will soon learn just how arbitrary those groupings are!)

In fact, I will go a step farther: The ultimate purpose of the liberty movement is to free people to think and act as individuals. One of my favorite quotations, from a source I cannot identify, is: "God made us unique, and then we go and spoil it by trying to be normal." Liberty is society's (and our own) permission to be the unique person God made us to me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Breaking news: U. S. Senate defeats measure to repeal Obamacare

From CBS News, via Repeal the 17th Amendment:

The Democratic majority in the Senate late Wednesday voted down a GOP measure to repeal the health care law. The vote was 47-51, largely along party lines.

Senate Republicans, who are unified in their desire to repeal the bill, have known all year they had virtually no chance to pass a repeal measure. But Republicans campaigned in the midterm elections on a promise to "repeal and replace" the law, and they have been eager to show they are trying to follow through on their promise. The Republican-led House passed a repeal bill last month.

Read the rest of the article here.
 This is why we need nullification.

Russian poll: 40% favor secession of Muslim regions

Twenty years after the Soviet Union split up, it appears that Russians are ready for a further breakdown, in the wake of a suicide bombing at a Moscow airport on Monday that has been traced to extremist groups in the Caucasus. This is the region that includes Chechnya, which has been a thorn in Russia's side for many years.

As reported in the German publication Spiegel Online:

The right-wing extremists' demands are also meeting with approval among ordinary citizens. A radical form of Islam is gaining the upper hand in the Caucasus. More than 40 percent of Russians favor the secession of the region. The number of attacks there has doubled within a year, and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians have fled to Russia. The wars the Kremlin waged in Chechnya and Georgia were in vain, and today the majority of Russians no longer want Chechens, Dagestanis, Ingush and Balkars as fellow citizens.

Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, terrorism is challenging not only Moscow's control of the Caucasus but also Russia's future as a multiethnic society. The country is home to more than 100 nationalities. Muslims make up 20 million of a population of 141 million, and seven million guest workers contribute to prosperity in Russia. In surveys, however, 36 percent of Moscow residents say that they feel "hatred" toward Chechens.

The writer Victor Erofeyev believes that "extreme nationalism is the germ that could lead to the country's disintegration." The nationalist-communist weekly newspaper Zavtra even sees a civil war on the horizon.

We are indeed living in revolutionary times.

Ohio Senate introduces Health Care Amendment similar to the Ohio Project's

Yesterday, State Sen. Timothy Grendell (R-Chesterland) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would introduce an amendment to the Ohio Constitution forbidding the federal government from compelling anyone to purchase health care insurance. Like the Ohio Project and Bill Yarbrough, I give qualified support to the resolution.

In his Yarblog, Mr. Yarbrough observes the subtle difference in language between the Ohio Project's petition language (which is less than 100,000 signatures shy of their goal), and that of SJR 1.

From the Ohio Project petition amendment language:

Section 21 (A) No federal, state, or local law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.
Section 21 (B) No federal, state, or local law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance.
Section 21 (C) No federal, state, or local law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.
   From SJR 1 amendment language:

Section 21 (A) No law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system.
Section 21 (B) No law or rule shall prohibit the purchase of health care or health insurance or sale of health care or health insurance.
Section 21 (C) No law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance.
The difference in language can easily lead to a court interpretation that limits "law or rule" to Ohio law, thus defeating its original purpose, to state that no federal law or rule shall compel, prohibit, or impose.

The Ohio Project Amendment and SJR 1 share another problem. They only address forced purchase of health care, an egregious violation of the Constitution, to be sure; but implicitly accepting the notion that the rest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Constitutional.

SJR 1 as currently written is too weak. Ohioans deserve better, something like Nebraska's LB 515, on which I reported Jan. 25. We have the most liberty-minded General Assembly in many years. It is not politically unrealistic to work for a tougher resolution; which is not to say we'll get it, or that it would be approved as a Constitutional Amendment by the requisite three-fifths majority in both houses.

Bottom line: Ohio is a sovereign state. Our General Assembly needs to remind both the federal government and the people of Ohio that we are a sovereign state. SJR 1 and HB 11, in combination, are better than nothing; but they are not what we should be striving for.

Cutting off the money supply

Last year, we discussed with Ohio legislators an idea for the State of Ohio to intercept federal tax money pending a determination of the constitutionality of its purpose. After considerable research and discussion, we were unable to find a feasible way to carry this out (but please feel free to e-mail me or comment if you have any ideas!)

Tom Mullen is looking at a different approach to the same end. Simply block enforcement of the tax laws until the feds balance their budget. Other legislation has been suggested to block federal enforcement of Obamacare, firearms law, and medical marijuana -- why not this? Writing for, Mr. Mullen suggests:

This would be accomplished in the same way as several other recent nullification/interposition efforts. The state legislatures would pass a law indicating that no person or business in their state could be prosecuted or fined by the federal government for failing to file an income tax return or failing to pay their quarterly payroll tax deposits, so long as said filings and payments were made within sixty days of the Congress passing a balanced federal budget. For those who still trust the people less than they do the government, a stipulation could be added that the funds go into escrow and be audited by the states, if necessary.

This would accomplish two things. First, it would reestablish exactly who works for who in this relationship. Obviously, elections have failed to do that. More importantly, it would work. The blind fear that would grip our legislators when they realize that the party is really over would at least scare them sober enough to balance what would still be an over $2 trillion budget. While it wouldn’t solve our long-term problems, that truly would be a start.

Bloated governments are imploding all over the world and ours is poised to do likewise for all of the same reasons. Now that we have seen what “extremism” really looks like in Greece, Egypt, and Tunisia, this proposal should strike any rational person as reasonable and moderate. We do not need a rebellion or violence to balance the federal budget – just a little adult supervision.

I especially like the part about adult supervision. The children are in Washington, the adults are in the states. We the grown-ups need to get back into control.

Why the truth is so hard to find

Graphic found at the Tenth Amendment Center:

End the hypocrisy

Charlie Earl's Facebook page is dotted with daily three-word mottoes. I'm going to borrow the technique for one day and say, end the hypocrisy.

Update Feb. 2:  Lew Rockwell weighs in on the Republican hypocrisy of saying we can't be forced to buy health care, but can be forced to pay Social Security and other people's healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid). He has a point, and suggests that we challenge House Speaker John Boehner on the point.

Most of the problems America faces today are the result of governmental hypocrisy, particularly on the federal level:
  • President Obama says he wants to help the little guy, but continues to support the Federal Reserve Bank and large transfers of wealth to New York bankers.
  • They say they want to increase jobs, while pursuing stimulus packages that kill them.
  • The Congress says it wants to reduce the deficit, while taking less than baby steps to do so. The Republicans originally said they wanted to cut federal spending by $100 billion (a paltry figure when the deficit is $1,800 billion (= $1.8 trillion) -- now they are talking about a whole $50 billion. Chump change at the federal level.
  • The Eastern liberals want to make our political debate more civil, while they polarize us with phony charges of "racism."
And, worst of all (at the moment):
  • We tell the world that we support "democracy," while we prop up ruthless dictators like Hosni Mubarak. 
We will not begin to recover until the feds get the message. Right now, they are like children holding their ears and shouting "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

So we have to get their attention, and the way to do that is at the state level:
  • Nullify everything in sight that the feds do that is not in strict conformance with the Constitution.
  • Promote the use of silver in everyday transactions, which will destroy the power of the Federal Reserve Bank without any federal action being taken.
  • Speak freely, as long as we genuinely believe it is the truth. We don't need anyone's permission -- not the feds', not the Southern Poverty Law Center's, not some academic's -- to say what we think.
We must also get Congress to eliminate all military aid to other countries immediately. End humanitarian aid to countries where we know it is fostering corruption. Get out of the Middle East and Afghanistan, and begin withdrawing from Europe and the rest of the world (with the possible exception of South Korea -- and I'm not completely sure about that).

The purpose of our government is to support the lives, liberties, and opportunities of the American people. Nothing else. We have strayed far from that purpose, but it is our duty as citizens to insist that the federal government rededicate itself to that purpose.

If we cannot do this through many states nullifying many laws, then it will be time for us to declare independence -- but first, we must become more independent in our hearts. And the first step toward that is to demand that our governments

End the hypocrisy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Americans cannot openly discuss racial issues (and should be able to)

On January 25, American Renaissance, a publication that promotes white culture (which to most Americans is the definition of racist), was informed by the Sheraton Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, that its convention contract was canceled by the hotel. The circumstances of this cancellation indicate that the hotel was heavily pressured by Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon.

The interesting part of this story is how it was covered in Champion of Liberty Elizabeth Wright's Issues and Views. Remember, this is a black writer treating an allegedly racist white organization. She wrote in 2009 (and quotes here):

How is it possible, in these United States, that a group of people, who wish to get together to discuss a historical topic, must relentlessly hide their intention, obfuscate their meeting place, and keep their identities secret, if they don't wish to be hounded like wanted criminals? How is it that citizens who wish to meet peacefully do not have the protection of the law, in order to practice what the law supposedly guarantees, that is, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly?

How, indeed?  She then makes some particularly enlightening insights into the liberal mentality on race:

In our weirdly racially over-hyped universe, there is no latitude offered to those who would focus their sights on the subject of race and ethnicity in any other manner than that prescribed by the country's race monitors. Any aspect of the subject must be scrutinized only within the limits currently deemed permissible by a "diversity" obsessed society. Scientists and other researchers who have the temerity to explore such subjects as native ability, intelligence and I.Q., or other particular studies about biological differences between groups, are suppressed, and often denied an institutional affiliation. Some have been blackballed and banished.

This unenlightened, unscholarly approach, that leads to ignorance, is encouraged by liberals, who deem themselves the country's "intellectuals." They run most of the country's academic institutions, yet tremble at the prospect of applying their academic wits to subjects they have made taboo. To this mentality, the very act of investigating the taboo is an act of "hate." Yet, how can there be a subject that cannot be explored, researched, discussed and debated? What are these people afraid of discovering?

What these people are afraid of discovering is that people who really are not racist see others as individuals, not as part of groups. Seeing people as individuals frustrates the liberal agenda of leaving all power in the hands of the intellectually arrogant. In other words, it leads to the failure of propaganda.

I encourage you to read the original article. Like most posts in Issues and Views, it has been carefully researched and thoroughly thought out.

I support the First Amendment, in part because it enables us to find truth through reading and the free exchange of views. The problem is, the First Amendment lets people say things other people don't like to hear; or as my Constitutional History professor once put it, "The test of the First Amendment is the ability to allow the expression of opinions that are repugnant."

Health care ruling: Victory or Trojan horse?

Judge Vinson's opinion has been published, and is available here. While many hail it as a victory for conservatives and liberty loving people, it is too soon to call it a victory. The decision, as I noted yesterday, is virtually certain to be sent up to the U.S. Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, the Tenth Amendment Center adds another cautionary note in a news release issued today, reposted below in full. (The release was e-mailed to The Ohio Republic, but you may view a similar blog post on the Tenth Amendment Center site). The Center believes the ruling, by accepting federal authority over health care in general, is not going far enough to protect us from government intrusion, and may actually be a "Trojan horse:"

While many conservatives laud yesterday's ruling by U.S. District Judge declaring the federal health care bill passed last year unconstitutional, analysts at the Tenth Amendment Center displayed significantly less enthusiasm, calling the ruling a Trojan Horse.

“According to Vinson – and just about everyone else in the federal judiciary – the federal government actually does have the authority to control, reform, and regulate the health care industry. They’re just going about it wrong,” TAC executive director Michael Boldin said. “This is seriously dangerous for those who believe that the founders’ Constitution needs to be followed: every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.”

As James Madison explained, the commerce clause was intended to make trade “regular” between the states, primarily to prevent interstate tariff wars. Madison wrote:

“It is very certain that [the commerce clause] grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing, and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”

In other words, the framers never envisioned Congress regulating entire industries.

“The feds are authorized to make commerce in health care across state lines, 'regular' – that’s for sure. But this power is far less than anything that’s been proposed by either political party in….well, probably about forever,” Boldin said.  
The Center's director pointed out a "better option" for those yearning for just a little decentralized freedom.

“State nullification of the federal health care law – every single word of it, as it should be.”

In fact, 11 states have bills before their legislatures in an attempt to do just that.

As reported earlier, a bill has already been introduced requiring the Ohio General Assembly to approve any expenditures by a state agency in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HB 11); and the Ohio Project continues to gather signatures on its petition.

Perhaps a sounder and more efficient strategy would be for the Ohio General Assembly to pass an act similar to the one introduced in those 11 states.