Freedom and Liberty
I have to preface this by saying absolutely nothing would surprise me any more. Since this administration has come into office, what would have, or should have been, unthinkable previously has not only happened but has been cheered by a certain element of our population. ObamaCare is the most visible evidence of this. But there is plenty of other stuff too. Drone strikes on US citizens are “okay”, i.e. “legal”. Speaking of “legal” how about this:
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
More shredding of Constitutional guarantees. And what do we hear for the most part? A collective yawn.
We’ve all seen what has happened on Cyprus with the government imposing a “levy” on savers. A “levy”. Outright theft is what it is. And even while they’ve lowered the amount of the “levy” they’re still imposing it.
Couldn’t happen here, could it? Don’t bet on it. What other government is desperate for revenue? And where is it that 19 trillion dollars exist that is currently out of their reach?
Try 401(k)’s. Katie Pavlich has the story:
As a reminder, the United States government has been eying and researching how Americans use their 401k plans for quite some time now. Recently we saw the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggest the government help “manage” retirement plans.
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.
“That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in in terms of whether and what authority we have,” bureau director Richard Cordray said in an interview. He didn’t provide additional details.
The bureau’s core concern is that many Americans, notably those from the retiring Baby Boom generation, may fall prey to financial scams, according to three people briefed on the CFPB’s deliberations who asked not to be named because the matter is still under discussion.
The retirement savings business in the U.S. is dominated by a group of companies that handle record-keeping and management of investments in tax-advantaged vehicles like 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts. The group includes Fidelity Investments, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. (TROW) Americans held $19.4 trillion in retirement assets as of Sept. 30, 2012, according to the Investment Company Institute, an industry association; about $3.5 trillion of that was in 401(k) plans.
So we have a new government agency (created in 2011) looking for a job to justify its continued existence and an administration and political elite looking for revenue while over 19 trillion dollars lays in front of them. The statement “the …. bureau is weighing whether it should take on the role of helping Americans manage [their] retirement savings” should send shivers down your spine. Why do they feel the need to consider such a thing?
Well, it’s because you need their protection:
This agency, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank-Act, is very concerned about how safe your retirement savings are. They are apparently concerned that retiring baby boomers may become victims of financial scams.
That’s right, it’s save the geezers instead of the children. You’re simply too dumb to manage the account you’ve spent your entire working life amassing. You have to have government help to do it and that means what? Government access and, one would assume, at some point government permission to spend your dollars. How else does government save you from “scams” (you know, like Social Security)?
You sputter, “but they have no right…”. Since when has government really been concerned with rights? If it can give spy agencies access to your financial records “legally” to combat terrorism, how big of a stretch is it to believe they’ll grant another agency access to your financial records (401(k)) to combat “scams?”
And, with the camel of government’s nose under the tent, how long before that access turns into some sort of “levy” for this service they provide that you never asked for?
In the case of Michael Bloomberg’s overreach in banning a specific size of soda drink, the defender is some fellow named Lawrence Gostin. The headline of the article he’s written is “Banning large sodas is legal and smart”.
Really? Legal and smart? His defense of the indefensible has him channeling Paul Krugman, or at least emulating him.
As I’ve said before, it’s always wise to check the premise on which someone like this operates. In this case, the premise is, as you might expect, flawed and the reasoning thin. It all comes down to a word – “imminent” – and the author’s obvious belief that it is the job of government to save us from ourselves. You have to dig through the article a bit, but here’s where Gostin’s claim of legality comes from:
Admittedly, the soda ban would have been better coming from the city’s elected legislature, the City Council. But the Board of Health has authority to act in cases where there is an imminent threat to health. Doesn’t the epidemic of obesity count as an imminent threat, with its devastating impact on health, quality of life and mortality? In any event, the Board of Health has authority over the food supply and chronic disease, which is exactly what it has used in this case.
Members of the Board of Health, moreover, are experts in public health, entitled to a degree of deference. The fact that the proposal originated in the mayor’s office does not diminish the board’s authority and duty to protect the public’s health. Many health proposals arise from the executive branch, notably the Affordable Care Act.
Uh, no, obesity doesn’t qualify as an “imminent” threat such that a Board of Health can arbitrarily declare something “banned”. Why not king size candy bars? Why not New York cheese cake? Why not a whole plethora of sugar soaked products? Well, if you’re paying attention, I’m sure you’ve realized that if this had flown, such bans were likely not far behind.
But back to Gostin. Here’s his real argument:
First, the ever-expanding portions (think "supersized") are one of the major causes of obesity. When portion sizes are smaller, individuals eat less but feel full. This works, even if a person can take an additional portion. (Most won’t because they are satiated, and it at least makes them think about what they are consuming.) Second, sugar is high in calories, promotes fat storage in the body and is addictive, so people want more. The so-called "war on sugar" is not a culture war, it is a public health imperative backed by science.
So, there is good reason to believe New York’s portion control would work. But why does the city have to prove that it works beyond any doubt? Those who cry "nanny state" in response to almost any modern public health measure (think food, alcohol, firearms, distracted driving) demand a standard of proof that lawmakers don’t have to meet in any other field.
Because we don’t, in his opinion, “demand a standard of proof” from lawmakers in any other field, we shouldn’t, apparently, demand that standard in this field. After all it is a “public health imperative” which is “backed by science”. Where have we heard that before (*cough* global warming *cough*)?
So we shouldn’t ask lawmakers to prove that a) obesity is an imminent threat and b) banning large sodas will defeat that threat? Because that’s certainly the premise.
In fact, we should do precisely the opposite of what Gostin says. We should demand “a standard of proof” from out lawmakers that requires they prove whatever bill they’re contemplating is in fact necessary. Want to ban “assault weapons”. Prove to me that such a ban will “curb gun violence”. Stats seem to indicate it will have no effect. The lapse of the previous ban showed no appreciable increase in gun violence and we’ve seen an overall decrease in violence as a whole.
In this case, the ban Gostin tries to defend and contrary to his headline claims, was neither legal or smart. It was arbitrary and poorly thought out (if it was thought out at all – seems more like it was a capricious act grounded in an inflated belief in the power Mayor Bloomberg thought he had). And according to a NY state judge, it wasn’t legal either.
Of course Gostin tries a transparently obvious bit of nonsense by blaming the failure on “Big Food” and a compliant judge buying into their arguments. It is the usual fall back position for someone who has nothing. And his trump card is to compare the food industry to, you guessed it, the tobacco industry. “Big” anything to do with business or industry is a liberal boogyman invoked when arguments are weak. And Gostin’s is about as weak as they come. His attempt to fob this off on the “usual suspects” is, frankly, laughable.
I note this particular “defense” by Gostin simply to point out that there are people out there, people others consider to be rational and intelligent (and, apparently, who can get things published on CNN) that can rationalize curbing you freedoms and liberties through the use of force (law and enforcement) because they actually believe they know what is best for you and have the right to act on that on your behalf.
What we need to do, quickly, is find a way to dissuade the nannies of the world from that belief. They need to understand that freedom means they’re free to act on what they believe in circumstances like this but they’re not free to decide that others must do it too, because they’ve decided that’s the “smart” thing to do. Freedom means the right to fail, get fat, do stupid things (that don’t violate the rights of others), etc. We’re issued one mother in our lives. And it’s not the state.
Because government is so completely involved in our lives. A good example is the UK.
Winter weather has killed a million Brits since the 1980s and will kill a million more by 2050, experts have warned. Age support groups and doctors blame poor housing, high energy bills and pensioner poverty. Many killed by the cold are elderly but the ill, vulnerable and very young also die. A total of 973,000 people died due to winter weather from 1982/83 to 2011/12, Office of National Statistics data for England and Wales shows. ONS data shows another million Brits will be killed by winters by 2050, based on the average of 27,400 cold weather deaths per winter in the last five years.
The government, of course, is responsible for more of the problems listed than high energy bills but I wanted to highlight that and then turn to the irony part of this:
Migrating birds have halted Britain’s embryonic shale gas expansion in its tracks. The company backed by Lord Browne, the former BP boss, admitted yesterday that it must delay resuming fracking near Blackpool until next year because of rules protecting thousands of birds wintering in the surrounding picturesque Fylde peninsula.
Nice to know who or what has the priority over freezing Brits, no?
I have to agree with Thomas Sowell who opined early on, and I’m paraphrasing here, “who would believe that adding a layer of government bureaucracy to healthcare would somehow make it less costly?”
Exactly. Or easier to get, for that matter?
Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes.
The government’s draft application is now on the Internet.
It runs 15 pages for a three-person family. The online version has 21 steps, some with added questions.
At least three major federal agencies, including the IRS, will scrutinize your application.
That’s just the first part of the process, which lets you know if you qualify for financial help.
You’d still have to pick a health plan.
Wonderful stuff, no? And nice to know the IRS is in on it from the beginning … because, you know, they have a lot to do with health care.
Some fear that consumers will be overwhelmed and give up.
Administration officials say the application form is being refined.
Of course it is. And it will be forever. Success? Reducing it to 10 pages I’m sure.
Still, the idea that picking a health insurance plan could be as simple as shopping on the Internet is starting to look like wishful thinking.
Heh … only an absolute dope would have believed that in the first place, with government involved.
But we told you all of this before the law was passed, didn’t we?
It all starts with what could be described as a very simple act – the acceptance of a premise. As soon as one side accepts the premise of the other side, the other side has won. It simply becomes a matter of how bad the damage is.
In this case, the premise that seems to have been accepted by the “old ladies” of the GOP leadership is that some sort of federal “gun control” legislation is necessary because of “mass killings” and our “children”. From Ammoland:
You might think that with Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives there would be no way ANY gun control legislation could reach the floor.
But sadly we are already beginning to see so-called “conservative champions” folding to pressure from the anti-gun media to sell-out gun owners.
Former Vice Presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, has stated that he would support legislation that bans private sales at gun shows.
In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with the help of Rep. Scott Rigell (VA), Patrick Meehan (PA) and others, have stated openly that they will work together with anti-gun Democrats from Maryland and New York to tighten restrictions on private firearms sales and expand background checks.
Possibly even more upsetting has been Senator Tom Coburn’s willingness to work alongside anti-gunner Chuck Schumer (NY) to propose “bi-partisan” anti-gun legislation in the Senate.
Make no mistake, so-called “expansion” of background checks is little more than a blatant attempt by anti-gunners to register all firearms and gun owners in America.
That is why Representatives Steve Stockman (TX-36) and Paul Broun (GA-10) have drafted a letter to Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership urging them to require the support of the majority of Republican members in the House before bringing any anti-gun bills to the floor.
This so-called “Hastert Rule” would mean that 117 Republicans would have to support a particular bill before it had any chance of getting a floor vote, not just the support of the anti-gun elitist in leadership.
So the premise seems to have been accepted by the GOP leadership if this report is accurate. And, if it is accurate, then they’re going to try to fashion some sort of gun control legislation to address a problem that the type of gun control legislation they’ll propose won’t effect. What it will do, however, is create a new law that will put legal gunowners in criminal jeopardy if they desire to sell their firearms and don’t follow the new rules to a ‘t’ (and, my guess is the new rules will likely be mostly unenforceable – they’d only be enforced retroactively if a gun involved in a private sale that wasn’t “background checked” was used in a crime).
The criminals? Those who are likely to commit mass killings? Yeah, they’ll comply.
Meanwhile, if you believe that Congress has no right to “infringe” on 2nd Amendment rights, prepare to be sold down the river by the GOP. They’ve already accepted the need and the premise, it’s now just a matter of figuring out what the “compromise” will be. What should be clear, however, is that if anti-gun legislation does get passed, it will be your 2nd Amendment rights that will be compromised and the GOP will be complicit.
As it should:
A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s administration frombanning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.
The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” wrote New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling, blocking the rules one day before they would have taken effect. The city’s chief counsel, Michael Cardozo, pledged to “appeal the ruling as soon as possible.”
In halting the drink rules, Judge Tingling noted that the incoming sugary drink regime was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” that would be difficult to enforce with consistency “even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”
“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule,” the judge wrote. (Read the full text of the ruling.)
Under a first-of-its-kind prohibition approved by the city Board of Health last year, establishments from restaurants to mobile food carts would have been prohibited from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. After a three-month grace period, the city would have started fining violators $200 per sale.
So the nanny gets told “no”.
Does anyone really believe this will stop him?
Hugo Chavez has assumed room temperature. I’ve always been taught it is bad manners to talk ill of the dead. In this case I’ll risk it. It is a huge boon for liberty and individual rights that Hugo is no longer at the helm of the shipwreck he’s made of his country and its economy.
Of course, there are those who feel differently about a man who had no respect for individual liberty, property or rights:
Sean Penn said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that “the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela.”
No one ever said our celebrities were particularly bright. I mean this is Sean Penn who tried to paddle around New Orleans in a row boat in the wake of Katrina to … well, one assumes to prove something. Instead he just became another problem for those actually doing rescue work.
So it’s not particularly surprising to see him, blinders firmly in place, saying silly stuff about Chavez. Chavez was a dictator, a tyrant, a bully, amoral, violent and singularly ideologically driven. And, in terms of how the world works economically, ignorant as a stump (a common condition for most socialists) – as is Penn.
Hugo Chavez was no “friend of the poor”. He simply used them, by giving them other people’s property, to provide himself with a power base.
With Chavez’s passing, perhaps Venezuela can now recover from the long national nightmare it has undergone during the Chavez years.
Or so says the executive branch in many, many cases.
In this particular case, the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, has simply decided to ignore a ruling of a US Court of Appeals:
Only a few hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision that the National Labor Relations Board does not have a legal quorum to act, the board’s chairman, Mark Pearce, issued a press release announcing the board’s intent to ignore it.
The timing and content of Pearce’s statement show a board so fixated on serving the interests of organized labor it no longer knows its place nor weighs the consequences of its actions on the public interest. Although Pearce may believe that the president has the authority to make recess appointments over a three-day break in ongoing Senate sessions — or over lunch, for that matter — it is not the place of the NLRB chairman to disagree with a circuit court on a constitutional question that goes to the heart of the political appointment process and one in which he has a partisan interest.
The answer to that is to ignore the NLRB and anything it says, does or declares.
If they can play that game, so can we.
When you hear all this nonsense coming out of DC about “spending cuts”, “savings”, sequestration or just about anything to do with budget, deficit or debt, who’s fault it is, etc. – even while they plan to kick it down the road, again – take it with a grain of … pie.
Given Fast and Furious, I’d suggest that Mexico ask for the names of gun runners instead. We’d top that list with the names “Barack Obama” and “Eric Holder”. However:
On February 18th, Sentinel reported about a new law passed by Mexican legislators – a mandate for a formal request of our US Senate to create and share a gun registry of all commercial firearms in the border states with the Mexican government and police. Private gun ownership names and addresses would then be in the hands of the Mexican government and police that all agree are filled with corruption.
In the past, I’d unhesitatingly say, “yeah, not going to happen”. With this administration, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they tried to comply.
Mexican ambassador to the U.S., Eduardo Medina Mora, said he hopes the Newtown shooting “opens a window of opportunity for President Obama” to pass tighter gun control laws.”
“The Second Amendment and the regulations adopted in the U.S. is not, never was and never should be designed to arm foreign criminal groups,” the nervy ambassador said.
Mexican activists in Mexico City have passed in a petition with 54,000 signatures asking for tighter US gun control.
Of course they have – the murder and mayhem among their criminal class is out of control and epidemic and they need someone to blame. And, of course, this would provide a wonderful premise on which to clamp down on private ownership of firearms, Constitution be damned.
Of course realty says that, stipulated, even if they could and did do this, nothing would change:
George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary, doubts tighter gun control laws in the U.S. will greatly affect violence in Mexico. Cartels, Grayson said, can easily find AK-47s and other assault weapons on the international market – places such as China, France, Brazil and Israel.
“The lion’s share of weapons used by cartels come from the United States, but having said that, if the Virgin of Guadeloupe were to stop the flow of weapons southward it would be a nuisance for the cartels but it certainly would not end the bloodshed,” Grayson said.
Ultimately, he said, Mexico would do itself a favor by looking domestically for the roots of the drug war – fixes are badly needed to the country’s corrupt judicial system, military and police force.
But reality and facts have never before stopped a political agenda. Arms such as those the cartels use are readily available from dozens of international arms dealers. Screwing the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment wouldn’t change that one iota.
And they know that. But, as pointed out the other day, this isn’t about facts. This is about a social and political agenda. In the case of such agendas, pretty much anything is considered fair, to include ignoring facts, science and the Constitution.
Let’s see if anything develops from this.