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We, like virtually all Americans, decry pork and the profligacy that is associated with our government. It is an inexcusable abuse, an arrogance and sheer waste of taxpayer dollars that should have remained with the taxpayer who worked hard to earn them. There needs to be fiscal restraint, responsibility and better oversight in order to avoid the endless number of stories documenting government waste as delineated below. A smaller government will also facilitate this on another level.
Taxes should be considered almost as sacred and treated with respect by the government rather than as a right and commodity to do with as it pleases. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s ideology of a massive, intrusive, omnipotent and regulating central government runs counter to this and to what is best for the American taxpayer and citizen.
Pool Parties and Golf - Your Tax Dollars at Work
Questionable Spending at the Department of Justice is Poorly Monitored
The nation may face a $1.47 trillion deficit, but Sharyl Attkisson reports that the cash-strapped Justice Department continues to pay for parties and excursions in the name of drug prevention.
With a $13 trillion debt, why is the Department of Justice spending money on parties and rollercoaster rides rather than investigating crime, drug cartels, prosecuting terrorists?
Untold millions of your tax dollars are paying for recreation in the name of crime prevention: pool parties, rollercoaster rides, and police donut-eating contests. The idea is that fun activities keep kids out of trouble, build self-esteem and prevent crime.
CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports the problem is the money comes from the Department of Justice - which doesn't even have enough resources to keep up on analyzing foreign intelligence.
Now, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)has found nobody is measuring just how much is spent on the recreation - or whether it even works.
Sen.Tom Coburn, R-Okla., estimates well over $100 million tax dollars over five years has been spent on recreation to fight crime. Coburn says poor tracking leads to questionable spending. At least $200,000 was spent for officials to attend conferences at golf resorts in Florida and Palm Springs, or a film festival featuring "Santa, The Fascist Years."
Many of the grants are earmarked by Congress without the normal public review. Justice Department officials told the GAO that it makes them harder to scrutinize. So they rely on recipients to follow the rules: not all of them do.
Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens earmarked $1.7 million to a group run by a couple who were his friends. They were convicted of stealing $450,000 and spent some of it on a wedding reception for their son - who happened to work for Senator Stevens.
Just last month, an Oklahoma City program was found to have misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal crime prevention funds on things like a giant flat screen TV, 40 pairs of binoculars and $200 Japanese-style swords. Police said most of the binoculars were never used and there was "no legitimate purpose" for the swords.
Twelve other federal agencies and 99 programs fund similar community programs to keep kids out of trouble. Critics want more accountability.
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The greed shown and perpetrated by our public servants apparently has no limits – and they most often show no remorse. This is the abject state of affairs that suffuses Washington and many states with probably the worst (and best example) being California.
Sadly, this is not limited to a just a small group of federal employees. State and municipal employees are raping the American taxpayer public as well – sometimes for egregious amounts that most voters are oblivious of.
This situation must be reversed. It is yet another reason why California in particular has an untenable budget deficit, poor credit rating, high taxes and very angry citizens.
Investor’s Business Daily 07/22/2010
Government Greed: The city manager of a low-income Southern California suburb has been pulling down nearly $800,000 a year. And get this — he claims he could match that in the private sector.
Robert Rizzo was, at this writing, reported to be on the verge of resigning as city manager of Bell, a city of 37,000 about 10 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. He clearly didn't want to leave. It took a week of protests and horrific publicity to pry him loose. And we can see why. He was making $787,637 a year.
To hear him tell it, he was worth every penny. When the Los Angeles Times broke the story about his salary, he had this to say:
"If that's a number people choke on, maybe I'm in the wrong business. I could go into private business and make that money. This council has compensated me for the job I've done."
Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia, who at $376,288 earns more than the top administrator for all of Los Angeles County, chimed in:
"I would have to argue that you get what you pay for."
We can't count the times that we've heard that type of argument to justify excessive public pay. It rests on the idea that public wages, benefits and, above all, pensions have to be kept high to attract competent people to government from the private sector.
At one time this reasoning might have made some sense. No more. By any meaningful measure, public-sector rewards now are superior to those of private workers.
As of this March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Compensation Survey pegged the average state and local government worker's pay and benefits at $39.81 per hour compared with $27.73 per hour in private industry. Bell has plenty of private-sector workers who could vouch for the reality behind those statistics. Its per-capita income is about half the U.S. average.
The income gap between Bell's residents and its public "servants" (including a police chief who makes $457,000) is unusually high.
But the government greed that has reached such an absurd level here is not confined to one city. It is a pervasive force wherever public employees gain dominance over legislatures, city councils and school boards.
In Bell, it was the greed of the bosses that got out of control.
In California as a whole, it is the power of unions representing prison guards and other well-paid, rank-and-file workers that's bankrupting the state.
And speaking of pensions: Under California's formulas, it appears that Rizzo is entitled to a pension of at least $600,000 a year.
Excuse us while we choke on that number, too.
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“In the years leading up to 2008—09's financial meltdown, government control over mortgages, interest rates and America's banking system was at an all-time high.
And yet when crisis struck, free enterprise took the blame.
The cure, therefore, was to give government even wider powers. Washington can now bail out any company, fire CEOs, override contracts and print billions of dollars to "stimulate" the economy — all in the name of the public interest. The result? Our deficits and debt continue to mount, and there's a real possibility of a future like Greece's.
This is the state of our world today. It's remarkably similar to the state of the world in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," a mystery story about a future America whose economy is disintegrating and whose government is accumulating power faster than anyone thought possible. This parallel is a big reason a record 500,000 people bought "Atlas Shrugged" last year.
So what can we learn from a book that foresaw in 1957 what few believed possible in 2007? We can learn a lesson the heroes of the novel learn: the cause of the government's greater, destructive control of business. And we can learn how to oppose it.”
So notes Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, who states what many who have read Atlas Shrugged already know: that Ayn Rand in 1957 presciently foresaw what our government could do to destroy our rights, freedoms, motivations and economy.
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Andrew Klavan Happy Days of Summer
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Philosophically, the government already claims an excessive and an ever increasing amount of our hard earned money through multifarious taxes that are not limited to income taxes. Their profligate spending is partially fueled by our representatives’ knowledge that there can and will be more money collected and more ways to obtain it from us.
This must be stopped! Enough of our spendthrift, profligate government. Much more of this money should remain with us rather than be wasted on pork or pet projects that allow these government officials to have their name plastered on some building or institution, or to be transferred to those who are irresponsible and lazy but feel that it is their right to share in the American dream. (You know these individuals: they use food stamps to buy liquor and cigarettes and their money to buy iPods, iPhones, $200 sneakers, cell phones, tattoos and gold onlays for their teeth while having numerous children by countless and nameless partners.)
We must use all means possible to let our representatives know that we want the Bush tax “cuts” to remain in effect. If they are allowed to expire, the government will be taking billions of additional dollars more from us each year – which is on top of Obama’s new taxes for healthcare.
Remember Nov. 2nd.
The Tax Tsunami On The Horizon
Investors Business Daily 07/21/2010
Fiscal Policy: Many voters are looking forward to 2011, hoping a new Congress will put the country back on the right track. But unless something's done soon, the new year will also come with a raft of tax hikes — including a return of the death tax — that will be real killers.
Through the end of this year, the federal estate tax rate is zero — thanks to the package of broad-based tax cuts that President Bush pushed through to get the economy going earlier in the decade.
But as of midnight Dec. 31, the death tax returns — at a rate of 55% on estates of $1 million or more. The effect this will have on hospital life-support systems is already a matter of conjecture.
Resurrection of the death tax, however, isn't the only tax problem that will be ushered in Jan. 1. Many other cuts from the Bush administration are set to disappear and a new set of taxes will materialize. And it's not just the rich who will pay.
The lowest bracket for the personal income tax, for instance, moves up 50% — to 15% from 10%. The next lowest bracket — 25% — will rise to 28%, and the old 28% bracket will be 31%. At the higher end, the 33% bracket is pushed to 36% and the 35% bracket becomes 39.6%.
But the damage doesn't stop there.
The marriage penalty also makes a comeback, and the capital gains tax will jump 33% — to 20% from 15%. The tax on dividends will go all the way from 15% to 39.6% — a 164% increase.
Both the cap-gains and dividend taxes will go up further in 2013 as the health care reform adds a 3.8% Medicare levy for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and joint filers making more than $250,000.
Other tax hikes include: halving the child tax credit to $500 from $1,000 and fixing the standard deduction for couples at the same level as it is for single filers.
Letting the Bush cuts expire will cost taxpayers $115 billion next year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and $2.6 trillion through 2020.
But even more tax headaches lie ahead. This "second wave" of hikes, as Americans for Tax Reform puts it, are designed to pay for ObamaCare and include:
The Medicine Cabinet Tax. Americans, says ATR, "will no longer be able to use health savings account, flexible spending account, or health reimbursement pretax dollars to purchase nonprescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin)."
The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. "This provision of ObamaCare," according to ATR, "increases the additional tax on nonmedical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10% to 20%, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10%."
Brand Name Drug Tax. Makers and importers of brand-name drugs will be liable for a tax of $2.5 billion in 2011. The tax goes to $3 billion a year from 2012 to 2016, then $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018.
Beginning in 2019 it falls to $2.8 billion and stays there. And who pays the new drug tax? Patients, in the form of higher prices.
Economic Substance Doctrine. ATR reports that "The IRS is now empowered to disallow perfectly legal tax deductions and maneuvers merely because it judges that the deduction or action lacks 'economic substance.'"
A third and final (for now) wave, says ATR, consists of the alternative minimum tax's widening net, tax hikes on employers and the loss of deductions for tuition:
• The Tax Policy Center, no right-wing group, says that the failure to index the AMT will subject 28.5 million families to the tax when they file next year, up from 4 million this year.
• "Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly deduct, or 'depreciate') equipment purchases up to $250,000," says ATR. "This will be cut all the way down to $25,000. Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment. In January of 2011, all of it will have to be 'depreciated.'"
• According to ATR, there are "literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place," plus the loss of some tax credits. The research and experimentation tax credit will be the biggest loss, "but there are many, many others. Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs."
• The deduction for tuition and fees will no longer be available and there will be limits placed on education tax credits. Teachers won't be able to deduct their classroom expenses and employer-provided educational aid will be restricted. Thousands of families will no longer be allowed to deduct student loan interest.
Then there's the tax on Americans who decline to buy health care insurance (the tax the administration initially said wasn't a tax but now argues in court that it is) plus a 3.8% Medicare tax beginning in 2013 on profits made in real estate transactions by wealthier Americans.
Not all Americans may fully realize what's in store come Jan. 1. But they should have a pretty good idea by the mid-term elections, and members of Congress might take note of our latest IBD/TIPP Poll (summarized above).
Fifty-one percent of respondents favored making the Bush cuts permanent vs. 28% who didn't. Republicans were more than 4 to 1 and Independents more than 2 to 1 in favor. Only Democrats were opposed, but only by 40%-38%.
The cuts also proved popular among all income groups — despite the Democrats' oft-heard assertion that Bush merely provided "tax breaks for the wealthy." Fact is, Bush cut taxes for everyone who paid them, and the cuts helped the nation recover from a recession and the worst stock-market crash since 1929.
Maybe, just maybe, Americans remember that — and will not forget come Nov. 2.
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If you can stomach the elitist arrogance and condescension exuding in the video below, you will see liberal news media members in action on CNN discussing the "desecration" of the internet caused by bloggers. Not by pornography, hate sites or terrorist created ones. No, blogs that express points of view that are at odds with the far-left, out of touch news media. Just people exercising their rights of free speech, dissemination of information and opinions.
As we discovered with the Journolist scandal, these media members want to completely control the transmission and availability of information ... with a very liberal/progressive angle.
CNN Anchors Call For Crackdown on Bloggers
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Affirmative action is a practice that establishes the provision of granting greater rights for particular groups of people over others which, ipso facto, is a violation of the 14th Amendment of our Constitution (unless, of course, it is interpreted as a living, changeable document by a progressive Justice). The way it has been applied in this country is to inequitably, immorally and probably unconstitutionally assign greater rights, opportunities and privileges to blacks at the expense of whites and Asian-Americans.
Is this fair?
Of course not!
This is reverse discrimination, plain and simple. People are being penalized because their skin is white (or they came from China or Japan, etc.). Such a policy fosters resentment from those who are discriminated against and exacerbates racial tensions and is counterproductive.
In the following editorial by Sen. James Webb of Virginia, a Democrat, he calls for the abolishment of this divisive, inequitable, morally wrong and unconstitutional (strictly speaking) policy. He states that:
“Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners.”
We strongly agree.
Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege
America still owes a debt to its black citizens, but government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end.
James Webb July 22, 2010
The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.
Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.
I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America's economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.
In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.
Lyndon Johnson's initial program for affirmative action was based on the 13th Amendment and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which authorized the federal government to take actions in order to eliminate "the badges of slavery." Affirmative action was designed to recognize the uniquely difficult journey of African-Americans. This policy was justifiable and understandable, even to those who came from white cultural groups that had also suffered in socio-economic terms from the Civil War and its aftermath.
The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all "people of color"—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup.
Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years.
Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.
The clearest example of today's misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.
The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that "fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery."
The Civil War devastated the South, in human and economic terms. And from post-Civil War Reconstruction to the beginning of World War II, the region was a ravaged place, affecting black and white alike.
In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt created a national commission to study what he termed "the long and ironic history of the despoiling of this truly American section." At that time, most industries in the South were owned by companies outside the region. Of the South's 1.8 million sharecroppers, 1.2 million were white (a mirror of the population, which was 71% white). The illiteracy rate was five times that of the North-Central states and more than twice that of New England and the Middle Atlantic (despite the waves of European immigrants then flowing to those regions). The total endowments of all the colleges and universities in the South were less than the endowments of Harvard and Yale alone. The average schoolchild in the South had $25 a year spent on his or her education, compared to $141 for children in New York.
Generations of such deficiencies do not disappear overnight, and they affect the momentum of a culture. In 1974, a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study of white ethnic groups showed that white Baptists nationwide averaged only 10.7 years of education, a level almost identical to blacks' average of 10.6 years, and well below that of most other white groups. A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.
Policy makers ignored such disparities within America's white cultures when, in advancing minority diversity programs, they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy makers were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas including business startups, academic admissions, job promotions and lucrative government contracts.
Where should we go from here? Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.
Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.
Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away.
Mr. Webb, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Virginia.
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