Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Liberty Amendments: It is Time!

I am an avid Mark Levin listener and supporter. I wanted to make that perfectly clear as I discuss his new book which is really a call to action, “The Liberty Amendments.”

I have been reading books about the history and founding of our country for many years now. I believe that reading the Constitution is important but understanding the context of when and why it was written is as important, if not more important, for a true understanding of the intent of our founders. I wish this book had come out sooner because in encapsulates everything I have read to date that has provided me with the knowledge to argue the intent of the Constitution. It would have saved me a lot of reading! I am only half kidding because I do love reading our history, but for those of you that find history a chore, you now have the perfect alternative.

Mark has taken what so many true constitutional conservatives have been thinking and has given us a plan to rally around for the sake of saving our future in the Liberty Amendments. My brother and I do a little known Blog Talk Radio program called “Hand’s On Politics” and this book is going to be a feature item during our shows to help Mark rally the troops. The beauty of it is Mark has created an easy read and the book is only a few hundred pages. You will not want to put it down if you love this country.

Mark is too humble when he talks about the book as being a “conversation starter.” It is a book that is going to create a constitutional movement stemming from the grass roots where it belongs. To think that the federal government will ever reign itself in is a fool’s hope. As Mark lays it out in plain words and plenty of supporting facts and statistics, we the people need to take back control through the amendment process laid out so prophetically in Article V of the Constitution. It must start in our state legislatures where we can have a true impact as individuals, and for the purpose of rebalancing the power between the states and her “baby” the federal government.

The amendments are an excellent foundation to restore the Founder’s intent. He starts with the Balanced Budget Amendment which is supported by overwhelming numbers of the citizenry and would be the perfect way to “test” out the process for those weary of a gathering to change our most cherished form of government, the Constitutional Republic. The Founders knew that someday the federal government would overstep its founding intent and provided the mechanism to take it back. The state initiated amendment process is also limited in scope to amending the constitution, and must be supported by 3/4ths of the state legislatures to become law. So there is a strong hurdle and impediment that will allow only the most needed and supported amendments to pass.

Mark has laid out the argument and path forward to get it done. I know the Founder’s would have been proud but they would have said, “What took you so long?” Although it may seem late in the process, politics often needs the right circumstances to whip people into action. The politicians in Washington have created the circumstances and Mark has provided the plan.

My only question is: “What are we waiting for?”

Monday, August 19, 2013

Common Core is not Common Sense…

The newest push for creating education “standards” for the American public school system have taken shape and they are packaged in a program called the “Common Core Curriculum”. This new set of standards is supposed to focus on the learning needed to be a success in the world. But when an administrator in the Illinois public school system argues that it is more important to explain how a student gets an answer of 11 from a 4x3 multiplication problem, instead of getting the right answer, this is a program that lacks all common sense.

Anything created by Washington DC bureaucrats (and state politicians associated with DC) to teach our children should be thrown out just because it comes from Washington DC elites. It is also a product of the “do-gooder” types like Bill Gates (who does good through charities) and others that have forgotten what education is and is not. It is not a one size fits all proposition.

Centralized command and control of education dumbs down everyone. Education should be a local process that teaches to the strengths and skills of the individual student. Should every kid know how to read, write, and calculate numbers? Yes, but how they get there is best left to local educators and parents to determine.

Many educated men and women throughout our history were self-taught including President Lincoln. Education is the self-pursuit of knowledge. Our kids need to be taught a passion to learn and what will make them the most productive throughout their lives. By bringing together parents, educators, and the business community, local communities could determine what works best for their kids. Setting guidelines for students at certain levels is fine but to make a kid wait to take calculus until 10th grade when a kid is ready in the 6th grade is ludicrous. The study of the US Constitution and American history must replace all of this global push but that’s a post for another day.

Home school programs have the right formula in many ways. Most curriculums are self-paced. Kids are encouraged to keep moving forward and learning more at their pace. When you base education on a kid’s age it is limiting to so many kids. Kids are smarter than most people give them credit for.   

Common Core makes no sense. We have a 50% drop out rate in many urban public school systems. In many more affluent communities we have kids in first grade that can already read, write, add, multiply and subtract but when the get to school their education is slowed down to align what they learn with their age. How do you create a one size fits all program when there are millions of sizes of educational preparedness?

The answer is you can’t. The answer is not Common Core, it is common sense…

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Single Payer Will Never Work…

We are now hearing the true intentions of Obamacare as a “single payer” system. What that really means is the government becomes the only “insurer” of healthcare. Ultimately the government becomes a monopoly for approval of services provided, and the payment for those services to medical professionals which are doctors and hospitals.

The reason it can’t work is basic economics. Supply and demand will create two systems: one will be for people that can’t afford to pay out of pocket, and those that are willing to pay out of pocket. I will describe the two systems and you tell me which one is likely to prevail.

Single Payer: Under this system the government becomes the insurer and will decide how much the premium will cost, what health services it will cover, and how much it will pay the provider (doctor/hospital) for the service. There is no competition to the government so premiums will continue to rise whether it is through individuals being forced to pay more or some kind of increased tax to subsidize individuals. The individual will only be able to get healthcare that is covered. This is where the death panels come in. In order to contain skyrocketing costs because now everyone thinks healthcare is “free” (demand increases to unsustainable levels), hip replacements for example, will be subject to a government bureaucrat’s approval. If you are 80 years old in marginal health, do you think the replacement will be approved? Long lines, doctor shortages, and poor care will be the results of this system. Doctors and hospitals will create a separate system in order to make more money.

Free Market Care: This system will develop because of the inefficiency, corruption; wait times, lack of doctors and hospitals, and fundamental collapse of the government single payer system. Doctors and hospitals will limit the care they provide to the government system or completely drop out of the single payer system, and start an all cash system. This system will work on all of the free market system principles and thrive. People that can afford to pay will pay out of pocket. They will get excellent care, short wait times, and will get any service based on their willingness to pay. Doctors and hospitals will charge what the market, (people willing to pay a price) keeping them incentivized to provide the service. This is the same principle every business works under in a free market system. This is the system we should be embracing now but we have too many people that think the government is a good alternative, especially leftists.

There will be some attempts by the government to make laws that force doctors to provide service to their patients, and laws that make it illegal to set up private practices, but this will create a revolution of types and most likely will be termed slavery, therefore unconstitutional.

“Single Payer” is code for government controlled, socialist healthcare. The healthcare system can’t sustain itself with the government in control. It will destroy itself under the weight of incompetence. We already have every entitlement the federal government controls now on a path to bankruptcy. Taking on healthcare will exponentially reduce the time it takes to get there…

Saturday, August 10, 2013

God’s Assessment of Me…

What if, tomorrow God sent us all a meeting invite with the subject line: Your Life Review, Done by God. How would we react? How would we prepare? Most of us have had our quarterly or yearly review done by our boss or the HR department, but by God? I know it might seem silly but it got me to thinking about my life. And by writing this I hope it gets you to think about yours.

As we know, every good assessment has categories and areas that need to be discussed so that the assessment looks at the most important aspects of what we do in our jobs. But what would God assess? How would (s)he determine if we are achieving success? What is success in God’s eyes?

I don’t know but my guess is God would focus on three categories; Kindness Toward Others (KTO for all of you metric acronym types), Service To Others (STO), and Living Up To God Given Potential (LUTGGP). I think most of us could quickly make a case for the first two measurements and discuss with God the plan we have to do better, but the third measurement is the one that had me thinking and perplexed, LUTGGP. The first thing that came to mind for me was: what are my God Given Skills? And even though I may not have all of the skills I need to be who I want to be - do I have the potential to be that person? You see, it does start to get interesting!

What do I believe was God’s plan for me? I believe we all have a purpose here on earth so we must have been given a plan? Not the step by step type plan but as a pirate might say, “More like guidelines.” What would God say about my potential, and have I lived up to it? Would he say, “Rich, I had so many hopes for you, and it seems you have steered away from every one of the things I gave you the skills to be.” Or would she say, “Rich, you have really taken the lemon of a life I gave you and made lemonade!”

If something is burning in our belly and we conveniently find ways to ignore it, what would God say? “I have given you the passion because I know you have the GGP (God Given Potential in case you forgot) but you have ignored it. Why?” “I did not place the fear there, you did.” “Why do you fear what you desire to do with your life?”

The older we get, the more we seem to reflect on the past. It may be that we just have more past to reflect on, but can it also be that we want to make a positive impact and know time is running out? I am not being doomsday(ish), I just know that time keeps going and we can’t stop time. Someday it will run out for all of us- is all I am saying.

Are we going to be ready for our assessment? Will we have a positive tale to tell? The tale can be as simple as volunteering to help the elderly or disabled. The tale could be you’re a great coach for your kid’s team. It could simply be being the best husband or wife, father or mother you can be. It could be setting your kids up for a bright future, or reading to kids that need help to get to that bright future.

I was just thinking and I thought I would share these thoughts with you. Is that part of my potential? I don’t know but I have a lot of fire in the belly type of things I am and will pursue. I hope I, and you pass the assessment if one ever comes… I hope we all get the promotion!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The True Seed of Racism

We all want to associate with people that share our values. It is human instinct, a survival mechanism, and creates for a civil society. The values often include things like religious beliefs, work ethic, educational desires, housing preferences, and economic status. But when people that believe that racism is a motivating factor to the makeup of a neighborhood (like the HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has proposed), programs like the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” is born.

This program assumes that if a zip code has too many people of one race then it must be the result of racism. When you think about the logic of this type of thought, you can’t find any. I compel you to think about why you live in the neighborhood you do? Is it because you’re racist? Or is it because you wanted a good school for your kids, it has a Church you can attend, maybe a nice shopping area, a short commute to work, open space or in the city, and it is a place you could afford to buy a house.

When the population demographics are simply looked at from a race perspective, how do you evenly distribute a Black population of 13%, Hispanic population of 15%, and the White population at 72% (2010 Census data) throughout the zip codes of America as this plan intends to do? More importantly, why would you think that race is a factor in any of it? This is the true reason why the people in the federal government and the left are so dangerous and it is why racism persists.

By trying to force people to live together by simply looking at race, you stir up resentment between the races. The assumption that race is why people live in a particular neighborhood, and then forcing that neighborhood to make housing exceptions in their neighborhood based on race, is divisive. What I mean by exceptions is the fact that forcing people into a neighborhood without the necessary means to live there undermines the economics of the neighborhood. The people that live in that neighborhood have worked, saved, and sacrificed everything to be able to live there. Now you are going to give it to someone that hasn’t done the same to get there like everyone else regardless of race has had to do? That fosters resentment. Not to mention the fact that they are using the tax dollars they have taken from you to make this possible.

Whenever you undermine the values that it takes to live somewhere, you foster resentment toward the people that receive that handout. Racism is on the rise in America not because we are racist, but because racists are stirring the pot with programs like the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” program. No matter what race a person is, if they can afford a house in the neighborhood on their own merit, they will be accepted into that community in 99% of all of the communities in America. I know the liberals and left that push these programs don’t believe that but the rest of us know it as a fact.

Racism is on the rise in America because we have a President and an administration that believes the answer to “fixing” racism is by being racist. To look exclusively at race to “fix” and “diversify” a neighborhood is to not understand what makes human beings tick. Common values don’t rely exclusively on race. Religious beliefs do not rely exclusively on race. Work Ethic does not rely exclusively on race. Living in a city or suburb does not rely exclusively on race. All of these values are based on individual choices that people make when living their lives. They have nothing to do with race. All races make similar choices when they choose where to live. It is just that race is an easy assumption to make for people that are racist. That is the seed of racism and we need to stop watering it if we want it to die…

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hand’s On Politics Blog Talk Radio Show is Back!

We’re back! My brother Ken and I are bringing back the extremely popular Blog Talk Radio show “Hand’s On Politics.”

We started this program to discuss the 2012 presidential election and try to communicate how bad the policies of President Obama were to the moral and economic health of this nation. Although thousands of people listened, the president was re-elected. Go figure? We tried and failed but we don’t flinch in the light of failure, we press on and will continue to discuss the political issues of the day and do our best to inform the “low information voter.”

As a constitutional “scholar” (I have read the Constitution more times than there are members of Congress), we discuss the issues from a founding context. We will apply economic theory (Ken is an economic “scholar” since he can balance a checkbook) in a way it is easy to understand. Ken will use really simple examples that even I can understand. We will discuss the responsibility of the media in a free society. The NSA and the 4th amendment (I think we scared away our “low information listeners” already!), and so many other issues of the day.

We will make fun of liberal policies and spoof their results compared to intent. We will be as funny as we can in light of the topic and introduce “characters” like “Richie Bag – O – Donuts” (that’s me doing my best Bronx impressions & Kenny will play the angry, uninformed, full of confidence in what he doesn’t know lefty). We will take the issues of the day and put our spin on them.

We are going to take on some guests but only people we believe are worth listening to like Professor Walter E. Williams (listen here). We will also dig into Mark Levin’s new book “The Liberty Amendments” and Mark if he wants to join us.  We will do our best to support Mark’s efforts with this ambitious project!

Talk shows are a dime a dozen but we have discounted ours to reflect our originality and popularity to a penny for your thoughts.

To our Facebook friends: no need to worry all political discussion will be discussed on the Hand’s On Politics Page. Phew! Collective sigh! Please join our page if so inclined…

The show can be heard Wednesday evenings from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM Eastern.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Government’s Definition of “Fair”…

What is fair? Is life meant to be fair? Is it fair that you have to be 6’8” to play in the NBA? Is it fair that you have to run fast to be a marathon runner? Is it fair that you have to be smart to get into Harvard? In order to make many things that we value fair, we have to change the rules and then accept the outcomes of those changes.

In order to make access to becoming an NBA player fair we would have to put in place rules like: there needs to be the same amount of woman, Asians, Whites, Hispanics, and Black players on every team. These players would need to be divided into players that are no taller than 5’1”, 5’8” and 7’0”. This would eliminate the dominance of tall players. We would also have to include a number of slots for people that are disabled. The list of rules to make the game fair could go on for pages.

We could take every institution, profession, and employment opportunity there is and make rules to make the possibility of entry to them fair but the results would all be the same; fair = distributed misery. There is no such thing as ensuring fair outcomes without manipulating the inputs. If you manipulate the inputs it is guaranteed to impact the outcomes in a negative way.

The rules of the game must be fair. The US Constitution is the rule of the game for this country. The Constitution offers a guideline for a limited intrusion into the freedom of the individual. These rules encourage people with exceptional skills, intellect, and drive to become successful without the intrusion of government bureaucrats forcing fairness on their outcomes.

Smart people will always be more successful than not so smart people. Big strong tall people will always have a better opportunity to be a professional sports player. People with a propensity to take risks will always be more likely to be successful entrepreneurs. The federal government can try to dictate that not so smart people should be smart but unless those people apply themselves the result will diminish the institutions they are enrolled in. The federal government can dictate that the NBA hires small uncoordinated people but the result is the NBA will lose its fans. The federal government can give money to people to start businesses based on something other than skill but the result will be less business at a high cost.

You can make the access to opportunity fair by making the rules of entry the same for everyone. You can try to make the outcome of results fair but that is a fool’s errand. We are not equal when it comes to skills, knowledge, God given genes, and drive, so how do you dictate success? The only way to make outcomes fair is to distribute misery.  And that is something the federal government and all government bureaucracies are really good at… Spreading misery…

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Obama Phones: A Telling Tale

It is almost a natural reflex in today’s mixed up, backwards world of politics to turn to the government to “fix” things in our society. Whether it’s; obesity, speeding, freak accidents, bad behavior, or a reaction to any headline the media decides to put front and center. A man jumps off a bridge, lower the bridge. A woman leaves a dog in a car with the windows down, remove windows from cars. People flush 5 gallons of water down the toilet, make toilets 3 gallons. The underlying question is why Americans reflexively turn to the government to “fix” things?

Any casual review of the results of government programs will tell you; government is incompetent at best, evil at worst. Take the issue of Obama phones. To be fair to this president, the program that has become the Obama phone program was started long ago to bring basic service to the poor so they could have a basic line in case of emergency. It was a program of good intentions which is common with every government program, but the results? Fraud and abuse is the result.

Since the program was expanded to include cell phones in 2008, the costs have gone from $822 million to $2.2 billion. This well intentioned program is now being completely abused. But why would we be surprised? Look at Detroit, Camden, Newark, Chicago, NY, and many other places across the country that are littered with government programs intended to help the people it is destroying. Section 8 housing, food stamps, welfare, public education, Medicaid, and on and on. These programs have spread misery, poverty, and ignorance in the communities they are intended to help. So why would giving “free” cell phones be any different? Actually, why would any government program produce different results?

The Obama phones that this reporter was able to accumulate without even lying about his status shows the potential abuse of every government program. So why do we keep asking the government to get involved in matters that are best left for individuals, local communities, churches, and civic groups to fix? Is it just a reflex? Or is it that people just don’t know where else to turn? I think if we can figure out these questions we can begin to really fix our issues as a country.

This reporter received 3 Obama phones which he wasn’t even eligible to have. The reason was that the federal government promises to pay private carriers for every phone they give out under the program. Do you see a problem with that incentive? Why didn’t the federal government?