Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Violence Is Our Common Domestic Enemy

Shays' Rebellion Was The First
It Won't Be The Last
Over 330 million peace-loving, law-abiding Americans, regardless of political affiliation, have a common enemy we can, and should unite against: violence in the public square.

Over 330 million Americans have not participated in any protest ever. They go about their daily lives trying to make a living every year. They watch the news and see tens of thousands of concerned citizens participating in various protests — which is great, as long as they were peaceful protests. Our First Amendment freedoms prevent the government from denying “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. 

The right to peaceably assemble to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman in Minneapolis was entirely appropriate and legal. The right to peacefully assemble to protest the outcome of the election was also entirely appropriate and legal. 

Several hundred people nationwide, however, perhaps a thousand total, decided to take it upon themselves to use violence instead of peacefully protesting. BLM leaders say their protests were “mostly peaceful,” but fringe members, possibly antifa, caused the violence. Trump supporters say their Capitol Hill protest was “mostly peaceful,” but fringe members caused the violence.

Regardless of who started it, any type of physical violence against an innocent person or their property is wrong. No one participating in any sort of peaceful assembly to petition the government for a redress of their grievances has any personal right or privilege to pick up a brick to break windows, torch businesses or storm the US Capitol. They certainly have no right to harm or kill other human beings. 

When any damage or physical harm is caused, the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted under equal application of the law. Our hope is that the guilty parties who stormed the Capitol will be swiftly arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Such a strict standard would set the bar for any prosecution of guilty parties in any future protest. The law has to be equally and equitably applied or else we will continue to see the violence of the past continue unabated.

People on both sides try to calibrate acts of violence by degrees of severity and acceptability depending on their point of view. Such arguments violate any sensibility of logic. An innocent bystander shot dead during a violent protest does not have the luxury of telling the rest of us they died for a “just” cause or not. Innocent bystanders who have their businesses and personal property destroyed by violent protestors did not get to vote on whether their property should be sacrificed for the cause, whatever it may be.

Violence is the problem, not our different political positions.

We, as Americans who love freedom and peace, have to come together across the ideological divide and collectively condemn violence as a whole, or else America will degenerate into an unwitting acceptance of violence forever on situational-ethics grounds.

The next time someone takes to the streets to protest any perceived grievance with which you agree, ask yourself if you would put a sign in your front yard and invite them to come destroy your property, break out your windows, torch your personal belongings and put your family at risk of physical bodily harm or even death. Better yet, cancel all insurance so you can’t hide behind the “Oh well. It is just property. My insurance company will pay for it” argument.

If you are willing to put your life and your property at risk for a cause, God bless you. But don’t act like it is an academic exercise to debate in a dorm room or salon parlor when innocent people you do not know are put at risk. That is not fair to them.

Is America at a time in our nation’s history similar to the early days of our republic, when violent demonstrations against direct taxation, led by Daniel Shays (1786-87), John Fries (1799) and James McFarland (Whiskey Rebellion, 1791-94), had to be vanquished by armed force? 

We certainly hope not. But 99.999% of our nation’s 330 million+ citizens deserve to be protected from the capricious acts of a few hundred violent protestors nationwide who seek to do physical harm to the rest of us.

We can’t function as a free nation without peace enforced by force.

(first published in North State Journal 1/13/21)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Electoral College Challenge of 1877

"Good Lord. I hope Americans in the
future know what they are doing"
Anytime something “extraordinary” happens in Washington D.C. where one side excoriates the other, you can rest assured they have forgotten, or never read, our history when their side would have benefitted from the same political maneuver in the past.

Liberals who are “aghast” at the prospect of a congressional challenge to the electoral college in 2021 would have been solidly behind the congressional challenge of 1877. The challenge dealt with egregious “voting anomalies” in Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. Namely, the very dubious handling of election ballots coupled with outright, physically violent suppression of black voters, who were 100% Republican back then.

President U.S. Grant had worked tirelessly during his two terms in the White House from 1868-1876 to enact, establish and ensure civil rights for newly freed slaves after the Civil War. He repeatedly sent federal troops into the South to protect black citizens from attacks by nascent white supremacist groups, such as White Line and the KKK.

When Grant decided not to run for a third term in 1876, Republicans in the North and South were understandably concerned that if the Democrat candidate, Samuel Tilden, won, all of the progress that had been made since 1865 during Reconstruction would go for naught. White male Democrats desperately wanted to regain control of government and commerce in the South.

They intimidated black and white Republican voters in the South in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. White Liners forced black voters to tell them who they worked for before they voted, which opened up the possibility of being fired from their jobs. As a result, only two Republicans voted in Yazoo County in Mississippi in November, and only one Republican voted in Tallahatchie County, certainly one noticeable “voting anomaly” in the 1876 election.

Tilden easily won the popular vote by 250,000 votes but only secured 184 of the 185 electoral votes necessary to win. President Grant was resigned to accept the results without full knowledge of the voting irregularities in the South when he told his fellow Republicans the day after the election: “Gentlemen, it looks to me as if Mr. Tilden was elected.” But he told the press later in the day: “Everything depends on a fair count,” as is always the case.

As he was attending a closing banquet for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, he was handed an emergency telegram from Interior Secretary Zachariah Chandler that said a train he had sent with election supervisors to the South to verify results had been “Kukluxed,” which meant the KKK had wrecked the train and thrown it off the track.

Certainly another notable “voting anomaly.”

President Grant immediately dispatched federal troops to Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana to protect the vote counts. In a fairly prescient comment, Grant said: “[S]hould there be any grounds of suspicion of fraudulent counting on either side it should be reported and denounced at once… Either Party can afford to be disappointed in the result but the Country cannot afford to have the result tainted by the suspicion of illegal or false returns.”

Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ultimately prevailed with 19 votes from these three states and defeated Tilden 185-184 in the Electoral College, after a 15-member commission of five senators, five congressmen and five Supreme Court justices voted 8-7 in late February to declare Hayes the winner, just before his inauguration on March 4.

The United States survived that constitutional crisis, which occurred in the afterglow of the bloody Civil War. The United States will survive the constitutional crisis of 2021 as well.

Democrats might find a Biden presidency to be a Pyrrhic victory in the end. Once Republicans figure out exactly what happened in the swing states, whether it was all on the up-and-up or not, they will copy and improve every tactic and strategy Democrats, such as Stacey Abrams and election lawyer Marc Elias, did in 2020 and use them in what should be a good Republican election in 2022, and then most certainly in 2024.

After all, once Joe Biden is sworn in as president on Jan. 20, everything that was done to get him elected will carry with it the imprimatur of being legal. What is fair in love and war is certainly fair in politics.

(first published in North State Journal 1/6/21)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Curing Leukemia With Leeches

Since America appears to be heading into a period of increased socialist policies under President-elect Joe Biden, and, if the unthinkable happens, most certainly under Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, it is perhaps wise to see what other great leaders of freedom had to say about their countries’ experiments with “democratic” socialism.

Calling it “Hibiscus” socialism wouldn’t make it look any better. It is still highly centralized government control of our lives no matter how one describes it.

Biden’s election is “historic” only in the sense that he is the oldest-person to be president-elect in the United States of America. He is the first president-elect from Delaware, unless one counts Rutherford B. Hayes, our 19th president, as the first since he was from Delaware, Ohio.

Donald Trump was responsible for over 100 million votes in the 2020 election: 74 million voted for him; 31 million voted against him. Polls say 39% of the people who voted for Joe Biden really voted against President Donald Trump because they hated him so much. Joe Biden might be lucky to count 50 million who truly were enthusiastic about voting for a Democrat candidate for president in 2020.

Hardly anyone has any idea of what Joe Biden stands for, what he did in 47 years of relatively obscure public service, or what he intends to do as President. He would not come into the White House with any of the adulation and public support that Presidents Obama, Reagan or Eisenhower enjoyed.

The #NeverTrumpers and people who hated Trump are about to get a real-life lesson in pure politics. They are about to get a dose of socialist policy they never believed possible. After that, all they will be able to do is blame themselves for what they hath wrought.

Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Great Britain in 1979, a year before Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. Both were elected because the creeping socialism in their respective countries was dragging both nations down into a morass of stagflation: 10% inflation, 21% interest rates and high unemployment.

Her task, as she saw it, was to dismantle socialism and replace it with a robust free market to restore the fortunes of Great Britain on the world stage. As only a great, educated British leader could do, she had some ripe comments about socialism:

“As Arthur Shenfield put it, the difference between the public and private sectors was that the private sector was controlled by the public sector and the public sector was not controlled by anyone.”

“The former Labour Cabinet Minister, Douglas Jay said that ‘the gentleman in Whitehall really does know better what is good for the people than the people know themselves’.”

“To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukaemia with leeches.”

“Seen from afar, or from above, whether a socialist gentleman in Whitehall or by a High Tory, socialism has a certain nobility: equal sacrifice, fair shares, everyone pulling together. Seen from below, however, it looked very different. Fair shares somehow always turn out to be small shares. Then someone has to enforce their fairness; someone else has to check that this fairness does not result in black markets or under-the-counter favouritism; and a third person has to watch the first two to make sure that the administrators of fairness end up with no more than their fair share.”

Therein lie the inherent flaws in democratic socialism. Politicians who propound socialism for all almost uniformly have zero experience doing anything in the real world outside of government and politics. Joe Biden was in government for 47 years. Bernie Sanders never succeeded in anything before he ran for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. AOC has never run a business, law firm or medical practice. Kamala Harris was a district attorney in San Francisco before becoming US Senator, but she is not an expert in the biogeochemistry of climate change, the economics of health care or any other aspect of our life socialists want to “change forever.”

Democratic socialists believe in their hearts, souls, and minds they, like the gentleman in Whitehall, know far better what is good for the people than the people themselves.

They don’t. America would do well to heed the words of Margaret Thatcher.

Happy New Year.

(first published in North State Journal 12/30/20)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Thursday, December 24, 2020

These Are The Times That Try Men's Souls

"Man, I sure hope future Americans appreciate what we are doing here!"


On Dec. 24, 1776, a beleaguered General George Washington was looking for some way to inspire his Continental troops after suffering crushing defeats in New York. His undermanned Continental Army was facing the British army, strengthened with Hessians, under the command of General William Howe, encamped across the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey.

It was cold and snowy; his troops lacked provisions and many of them were about to leave the army when their enlistment was up on Dec. 31. It was Christmastime and the last thing they wanted to do was embark on a secret attack across an icy river in the dead of night on Christmas Eve.

General Washington found the inspiration needed to rouse his troops in “The American Crisis,” a pamphlet published five days earlier by Thomas Paine. Paine’s “Common Sense,” published earlier in the year on Jan. 9, had been the spark that lit the flame of independence from Great Britain six months before the Declaration of Independence.

General Washington ordered the 3400-word pamphlet to be read aloud at McConkey’s Ferry to his troops, which included future American office-holders Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, President James Monroe and Vice-President Aaron Burr.

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value…

“Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but ‘to bind us in all cases whatsoever’ and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God….

“I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction…who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war… Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretense as he…

“(I)n the fourteenth century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment!

“I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it…Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.”

That Christmas Eve night, after adopting the motto “Victory or Death,” the newly-inspired troops crossed the Delaware River and attacked a sleeping, and probably slightly inebriated, Hessian garrison at Trenton on Christmas Day to provide the first real victory for the Revolutionary Army in the War for American Independence.

Times may change.  Americans will always have days when our souls are tried.

The only thing that matters, that which history will remember, is how we, as individual Americans, respond to such travails.

(You might want to read "American Crisis" in its entirety today or tomorrow and maybe even out loud to your family. Read it here: https://www.ushistory.org/Paine/crisis/index.htm)

(first published in North State Journal 12/23/20)


Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Taxing The Rich Doesn't Work

"Buy One, Get One for $1 trillion
in Taxes!"
“Tax The Rich” will be the mantra of progressive Democrats in Washington once again. It has been the rallying cry of progressives since passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913, which made the income tax constitutional. Rich robber barons were the only ones who had enough income to tax in the first place, so of course it made sense to “tax the rich.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) believes in soaking the rich so much that she is selling t-shirts with “Tax The Rich” on the front for only $59.

Imagine that. AOC, the leader of The Socialist Revolution in America, is using capitalism to sell t-shirts to fund the left’s efforts to overthrow capitalism and tax the rich.

Wait until she becomes rich selling t-shirts; she will become a Republican overnight.

Targeting the wealthy to “pay their fair share” has never solved any specific public policy issues. The top 1% of all taxpayers, those making over $500,000 annually, pay 40% of all income tax as it is today. We still have poverty; we still have thousands of bridges to fix and our education system is not working optimally, to put it mildly.

The main reason to target the rich is to punish them for their success through class warfare. History has shown innumerable instances where the masses wanted to dethrone wealthy kings because they lived such comfortable lives when so many of them struggled to make ends meet. Many times, they were understandably justified in their anger since the king over-taxed them and sent them to fight wars so he could gain even more wealth and power at their expense.

What happens when someone in America, starting with nothing, gets rich through their own efforts, their own hard work and putting their own money at full risk by investing in their own business? Did they gain their wealth by stealing from the masses or sending their sons to war like kings in days of yore? Does their success mean everyone else is entitled to demand whatever percentage of their income they should pay in taxes for the rest of us to use as Congress sees fit?

Americans exert an enormous amount of time, energy and resources each year to make enough money to support their families and make a profit in their business. They spend an inordinate amount of time, money and energy, too much really, each year trying to avoid paying as much of their tax liability as possible as well.

The problem with progressives trumpeting “Tax The Rich!” is that the very wealthy have access to the very best tax accountants, lawyers and advisors in the land. They will use every available legal means to make sure they pay as little income tax as possible. Most take no salary and avoid paying any income tax and payroll taxes at all. Americans earning below $200,000 find it almost impossible to hire the same high-priced sophisticated experts to shelter their income since the tax savings would be far less than the cost of such experts.

The U.S. Treasury collects 57% of total revenues annually from individual income taxes (50% or $2 trillion) and corporate income taxes (7% or $239 billion). However, due to the plethora of tax breaks in the U.S. Tax Code, roughly half as much, or $1.3 trillion per year in income tax, is not collected by the U.S. Treasury. People and corporations simply are protected by the current tax code from paying more taxes. That’s true today and will continue to be as long as we have an income tax.

Before anyone gets too incensed by “rich people not paying their fair share of taxes!”, everyone, including progressives, has to realize that two of the top tax breaks in the US Tax Code are the home mortgage interest deduction and the employer-paid share of employee health insurance. Take away those two deductions and the political party that does so will cease to exist after the next election.

Conservatives should pop some popcorn and watch progressives such as AOC drive President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party crazy with her scorch-the-earth tax policy proposals. 

The 2022 mid-term elections are right around the corner.

(first published in North State Journal 12/16/20)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Running Into Walter Williams In The Airport

'You keep your money; I will keep
mine. What is wrong with that?'
Walter Williams had a lot of wisdom. I certainly learned a lot from him over the years.

I got my first paycheck for a real job in the summer of 1978 after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill. To my horror and abject surprise, when I opened the envelope, 33% of it had vanished due to state and federal tax withholding, some strange thing called “FICA” and other various deductions.

That was the moment I decided to get into politics. I wanted to find out where 33% of my paycheck was going every other week and see if it was worth it.

The chairman of the Durham City Council lived across the street, so I asked if I could attend a Democratic precinct meeting at his house the next Tuesday night. Durham being Durham meant you had to get involved with the Democratic Party to get anything done.

When I raised my hand to ask a question on three successive motions, the chairman rebuffed me each time and closed discussion by deeming each motion passed by “unanimous vote.” Since I was definitely not in unanimous agreement, I went to the board of elections first thing the next morning to register as a Republican.

I formed a Young Republican group in Durham. I think we had six members. We could hold our meetings in a phone booth, almost literally.

Later that fall, I happened to see Walter Williams waiting for a plane in an airport. He was a tall slender man with big hands and a warm smile. We talked about the current economic turmoil under then-President Jimmy Carter, which ultimately led to 12% annual inflation and 21% interest rates by the day he left office on Jan. 20, 1981.

All I really knew about him was he was one of only two African-American scholars, Thomas Sowell being another, who wrote about the American free enterprise system in a positive manner. Dr. Williams wrote about racial issues, but from the perspective of how the underlying ideals supporting free enterprise could raise everyone up — regardless of race, religion or background — in such an engaging manner that I thought he would be a good guest to invite to speak our group in Durham.

He said he would come any time we invited him. All he needed was a $1,000 honorarium and travel expenses, and he would get on a plane from Northern Virginia as soon as possible.

“But Dr. Williams, we only have 6 members. We can’t possibly find $1,000 [$3,500 in 2020 dollars] to pay your travel expenses. We just graduated from college!” I somewhat plaintively explained. “Plus the government is taking 33% of every paycheck we get!”

He leaned over me, smiled again and said: “Well, welcome to the real world then. You want me to come share my ideas; I think that is worth $1,000 plus expenses. If you come up with it, let me know and I will be there.”

He shook my hand and left to get on his flight, presumably to some other place where someone could pay him $1,000 plus expenses.

He was not condescending or demeaning in any way. He proposed a fundamental transaction that is at the core of a free market; if we wanted him to do something for us, we had to pay him $1000 plus expenses. He wasn’t going to give his services away for free. The government was not going to pay for him to come speak to our group in Durham, nor should it.

In virtually everything he wrote about over his long and distinguished career, Walter Williams explained the essence of what a free enterprise system in a democratic republic should look like — voluntary, mutually-agreed-upon transactions where both parties get what they want from each other. Walter Williams wrote about capitalism and freedom in ways that made him one of the most eloquent expositors of the free market ever in American history.

Being a black man made him unique in the world of conservatism in the 1980s. His beliefs on political philosophy and economic theory, however, transcended racial, religious and socio-economic differences.

He talked about what essentially should unite us all as Americans: freedom. Without a flourishing free enterprise system, we will cease being Americans in spirit and in fact.

Walter Williams once said: “Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you — and why?”

He will be missed.

(first published in North State Journal 12/9/20)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Joy of Being Blissfully Self-Unaware

'What, Me Worry About Truth?'
It must be great going through life completely and blissfully self-unaware.

There is a certain amount of hypocrisy that comes along with the territory once anyone enters the political world. Slightly shading the truth to score a political point here, slightly accusing opponents of doing the same thing as you are doing there — politics is not a place where everyone is telling 100% of the truth 100% of the time, that is for sure.

Not even your friends.

However, coinciding with the spread of COVID, a pandemic of amnesia must have also hit America that selectively targeted the collective memory of the left, based on how they are reacting to the election challenges now underway.

Chief Impeachment Orchestra Leader Democrat Adam Schiff recently said: “It is just tearing down our democracy… I do expect, in the new Congress, that yes, [Republicans will] continue to try to go after Joe Biden, delegitimize Joe Biden. They won’t be interested in getting things done.”

He didn’t even blush or blink an eye. The leader of the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century, Tomas Torquemada, would have at least squirmed a little when confronted with his hypocrisy.

There used to be a time when political figures who said such things were ostracized and laughed out of Washington, D.C., never to be taken seriously again. They became a caricature of themselves due to their rank hypocrisy.

From the moment on election night 2016 when the media had to declare Donald Trump as the winner, people on the left and in the media immediately pushed the idea that “the election was rigged!” They claimed Trump won only because he colluded with (take your pick) Russian foreign agents, the KGB, Vladimir Putin, hackers, Ukraine or Boris Badenov, and therefore his Presidency would be illegitimate.

Democrats and the media spent the next four years — four years, mind you, not just four weeks — telling everyone that the electoral system in American was unsafe and untrustworthy. The Trump campaign is challenging the 2020 election results and claiming voter fraud and the untrustworthiness of the Dominion Systems voting machines, among other things.  All of a sudden, like Paul on the road to Damascus, liberal Democrats have seen the light and are now saying everything is perfect with our electoral system so move along; there is nothing to see here.

Please. Give American citizens a break. There has to be some sort of outer limits on how much hypocrisy the country can take.

Politics has always had its share of dirty campaign tactics, claims of “stolen elections” (see JFK; Chicago, Mayor Daley; Texas, LBJ 1960) and claims of illegitimate presidencies (see George W. Bush 43, 2000; Rutherford B. Hayes, 1876; and Benjamin Harrison, 1888)

There was no sincere concession by Hillary Clinton and Democrats in 2016 to “ensure a peaceful transition of power” to the incoming Trump Administration. In his well-worth-reading book, “Shattered,” Jonathan Alter describes in great detail how Clinton brought her chief political strategists together in her hotel suite the day after the election and told them to start spreading the idea that she did not lose the election fairly, telling them to blame it all on the Russian Collusion hoax to discredit President Trump and make him appear as “illegitimate.”

“The Resistance” was formed overnight, with Madonna saying she would like to blow up the White House and Whoopi Goldberg and The View spouting off fantastical theories of Trump being a Russian puppet for the next four years. Impeachment proceedings led by the aforementioned Inquisitor Schiff ended in nothing.

Joe Biden called for “unity” and “healing” on Nov. 7 after the media declared him the winner and “president-elect.” He could call on all the people who either funded or participated in the riots in Raleigh and major cities across the nation to raise money, roughly $1 billion or so, to completely pay for the repair of buildings and small businesses that were destroyed since Memorial Day if he were serious about uniting the country and healing the nation.

Otherwise, he is as self-unaware as the rest of the Resistance. He might as well put a lid on every day at 9:30 a.m. and stay in the basement of the White House if claims of malfeasance in 2020 fail to prevent his inauguration on Jan. 20.

“Malice towards none; charity towards all.” You know, the Lincoln thing.

(first published in North State Journal 12/2/20)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Great Reset

"Now's Our Chance...to Change Your World!"
 If you haven't about The Great Reset  yet, you will.

 Soon.

 Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” slogan, of which no   one knew the meaning or purpose, is a direct lift  from The Great Reset Manifesto, let’s call it, concocted by the dreamy-eyed elites of the world   who attend annual ritzy, star-studded winter retreats  in Davos, Switzerland under the auspices of the  World Economic Forum.

“In short” the wealthy elites of the world proclaim to the rest of the world, “we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

To save the world, these elites demand “the world must act ... to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions; ...every country... must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed”.

In other words, these elites demand that the entire world embrace socialism; impose much higher wealth taxes, which they will avoid paying, that’s a given; promulgate onerous regulations on banking and industry; and pass massive Green New Deals, which would “only” cost U.S. taxpayers and consumers $93 trillion to implement.

Liberal socialists never say anything about cutting government spending, lowering government regulatory burdens on business and people, getting rid of archaic government programs that have been proven ineffective, or removing legal barriers for people who want to start a business and provide a better life for their family.

Liberal socialists simply believe a lot more government is good. Conservatives don’t. It is pretty much that simple.

Every command issued by Great Reset/One World Government proponents strikes at the core of American individualism. American individualism and self- initiative led to the creation of such ground-breaking innovations as the IPhone, Amazon and Google, nothing close to which has ever been invented under socialist or communist regimes. Wait until the Great Reset dries up American innovation; Millennials and liberals will then see the adverse side of too much governmental control of our economy, then they will be ready for more free
market capitalism.

Americans should understandably feel a little queasy when they hear Prince Charles or Canadian PM Justin Trudeau gush about how the COVID pandemic provides the “perfect opportunity” to change everything. Only totalitarians at heart think a pandemic or crisis is “a great time to impose their will on the world.”
 
Hitler took power during the post-WWI economic depression in Germany to “restore the Fatherland,” to name perhaps the worst case in recent history.

Capitalism and free markets survived 50 million worldwide deaths of the Spanish Flu in 1918 and 100 million+ deaths in World War II. There were no "Great Resets” then. According to the World Bank, the rate of extreme poverty in the world was cut in half from 1990 to 2013, mainly because of the explosion of free markets and capitalism around the globe.

Capitalism doesn’t need to be “reset;” it needs to be unleashed and allowed to flourish without excessive government intervention.

When evangelicals hear about The Great Reset elites governing everything, their hearts will skip a beat. Worldwide universal contact tracing of individuals, massive centralized computer record-keeping for infection and vaccination and quarantining may sound like, and actually be, solid public health policy to
bureaucrats and elites.

However, if it starts to move into the realm of ideas such as implanting computer chips into every individual, evangelicals the world over will be triggered unlike any triggered community we have seen to date. There is too much symbolism and apocalyptic end times imagery that would accompany such a
policy from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

Great Resetters: Please don’t go there. We don’t need that right now. Everyone’s nerves are too frayed as it is.

Theologian Karl Barth used to urge his fellow Christian colleagues and students to read the Bible in one hand with the newspaper in the other. We agree, just don’t read the Book of Revelation while reading about the Great Reset.

It might get too scary.

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tiger Woods, The Masters and Life Lessons






















Dustin Johnson won the 2020 Masters in record-breaking fashion with a dominating five-stroke victory at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods did something many golfers consider to be even more impossible, and it was hardly even reported or covered during the broadcast or the media reports the next day.

Defending champion and five-time Masters green jacket winner Tiger Woods trailed Dustin Johnson by 11 shots heading into the final round Sunday — not a totally impossible lead to overcome, given Tiger’s history of playing extremely well in the last round of the 15 majors he has won and Johnson’s history of not finishing well in three other majors he led heading into Sunday, but difficult nonetheless.

Tiger got off to a solid start, parring the first hole and putting for eagle on the par 5 second hole, before settling for a birdie. He stumbled with bogeys on three of the next eight holes, taking him out of any serious contention to win his 16th major.

He had eight holes to play. Real golfers know they can’t give up when they know they can’t win. They have to finish the round they started barring severe injury and do the best they can.

He parred the 11th hole before stepping up to the most treacherous, and shortest, hole at Augusta National, the 155-yard par 3 12th hole, called Golden Bell after a bright yellow forsythia shrub.

The tee shot at the 12th hole at Augusta is one of the most terrifying shots in all golf. There is a landing area about 15 feet in diameter on the green where you have to hit your shot in order to have any chance at a par, much less a birdie. The green is usually slick as ice and any ball that lands short of the green almost always rolls back into Rae’s Creek.

Tiger hit his first shot on the front fringe of the green and, sure enough, it rolled back into the creek for a one-shot penalty. He hit his next shot, his third due to the penalty, and it, too, hit the green but had enough backspin that it rolled back into Rae’s Creek for another one stroke penalty.

He pulled out another ball to hit from the fairway side of the creek, his sixth shot. Remember: this is Tiger Woods, five-time Masters champion and one of the two greatest golfers in history, Jack Nicklaus being the other, making these mistakes, not some weekend hacker.

It hit the green hard and landed in the back bunker often described as treacherous. From a very awkward stance, he hit his sand shot too low and too hard and it skittered across the green and back into Rae’s Creek once again for a third penalty stroke. He pulled out another ball; pitched it onto the green lying eight and then two-putted for a 10.

There is no label for seven strokes over par on a single hole as there is for a double, triple or quadruple bogey. There are no words for the humiliation and dejection any golfer experiences who makes a 10 on a par 3, especially with 13 million people watching on television.

Somehow in some other-worldly way, Tiger Woods maintained his composure as he walked to the 13th tee. He birdied the par 5 and then parred No. 14 before doing what really is impossible for other mortal golfers: he birdied the next four holes in succession, the par 5 15th hole, the par 3 16th hole, the par 4 17th hole and the par 4 18th hole, to finish with a closing round 76 to finish the tournament tied for 38th.

Tiger Woods went from experiencing the worst hole of his long and storied career to his best score ever over the final six holes at the Masters in less than 90 minutes. How can anyone recover mentally and emotionally from such a disaster in such a short period of time to produce such extraordinary results?

Golf is just a game but sometimes it teaches life lessons we never forget. The main lesson is sportsmanship; golfers are the only athletes who call penalties on themselves to honor the rules of the game. Imagine such an ethic existing in every other aspect of life from business to politics to friends and family.

But in this almost unreported example, Tiger Woods teaches us to be resilient, to never give up, to take what life deals us and try to be excellent in whatever we do each time we do it.

There are some life lessons for us as a nation in that as well.

(first published in North State Journal 11/18/20)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Weight of Representative Self-Governance

At the time this piece was being written, the outcome of the national presidential election, and any other federal, state or local election, was unknown.

What we do know is that sometime, hopefully election night or Wednesday morning, or by the end of this week at the latest, we will know who is going to make decisions for us from the White House over the next four years on huge public policy issues for this great country of ours.

The great thing about representative democracy in a free nation is that each of us who votes has a vested interest, a stake in the outcome of each election. Our side may win or lose, but we still had a say as long as we exercised our right to vote.

America is not like the monarchies of Europe that many fled in the 17th and 18th centuries. No political primogeniture exists in America where the first-born son of the king takes over control of the kingdom to make decisions without consulting us.

Hillary Clinton was quoted recently as saying she “was born to be president” in a recent New York Times Opinion podcast, “Sway.”

Uhhhh, sorry Senator/Secretary Clinton, but obviously you were not born to be president. The Kennedys and the Bushes have had a good run in public service, but they have no divine right in America to the White House or any other political office, nor does anyone else, including the Clintons.

Every candidate has to earn enough votes to win. They compete on a merit basis for your vote, each and every last one of them.

With that vote comes an awesome responsibility for every citizen. Whomever you have voted for in the election, you own a piece of what they do in office. If you voted for more freedom, less government regulation, law and order and a strong foreign policy, you most likely voted for President Trump.

If you voted for former VP Joe Biden, you most likely voted for him because you 1) hated Donald Trump with a passion, 2) did not like his leadership or perceived lack thereof on COVID, 3) wanted more action on climate change and 4) wanted health care coverage for everyone.

If you voted for President Trump, you own a piece of his Twitter comments and somewhat outlandish comments in public on a wide variety of things. You might like most of his policies but his behavior and demeanor come as part of his package as well.

If you voted for Joe Biden because you tired of President Trump’s character and personality, you may get a more Caspar Milquetoast persona. However, in addition to getting a blander president, just know you probably will get the following as well: The $93 trillion Green New Deal, massive new tax increases, massive new regulations, the $32 trillion Medicare For All national insurance program and Elizabeth Warren as Treasury secretary for four years. Maybe eight.

To every #NeverTrumper Republican and Unaffiliated voter who voted for Biden because you thought you were getting a “moderate” president: if he wins, you will soon own all of the policies that the far-left socialist wing of the Democratic Party will foist upon him. He will not be able to veto everything they want to do. Given his advanced age, it is also fathomable that his running mate, Kamala Harris, will become president before 2024, and then you will have guaranteed the most socialist government America has ever had.

You can’t not own the results of your vote. You freely gave it to the man through which these policies will be introduced and passed and signed into law. Embrace every aspect of the Biden/Harris New World of American Socialism, because you will have helped make it happen.

Unfortunately for all of us, we all “own” the massive $26 trillion, soon-to-be $30 trillion national debt, regardless of who wins the White House. We can’t seem to vote for people who will balance the budget and reduce this threat to our future prosperity, so we are all guilty in this regard.

Rejoice in your victory, whichever side wins. Because you will get everything that is coming to you, the good and the bad and the very ugly.

(first published in North State Journal 11/4/20)

Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Win Without Crowing; Lose Without Crying"

Al Mann, Duke University 1936
Long ago in Durham, North Carolina, there was a football program for elementary school-age boys — the Al Mann Towel Football League, which played on an open field in Forest Hills.

No hitting. No pads. Just blue or red t-shirts and shorts with a towel stuck in your belt that would get pulled by the opposition when you had the football which meant you were down at that point. Kids learned how to work together as a team and got some exercise and a lot of fresh air before going to a Duke or Carolina “real” football game later that afternoon.

Care to guess what was really being taught all those Saturday mornings?

Sportsmanship, fair play, integrity and honor. Football was way, way down the list.

Al Mann had been a championship boxer at Duke University before World War II. All of the parents of the boys who played in his league grew up in the Great Depression, the one that makes anything we have gone through look like a garden party. Later, after all that hardship growing up, those parents fought in and suffered through World War II, the bloodiest and most costly war in contemporary human history in terms of lives lost.

They knew what honor, duty and responsibility meant. They had lived it.

Al Mann opened every practice and ended every game with his trademark challenge to every young man in his program: “Win without crowing; lose without crying”.

If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times. In a world of total chaos, unemployment, famine and war, the only things that carried those parents through difficulty was their word, their honor, their trustworthiness as a friend and neighbor. Winning to them really meant “survival,” but it should be done without berating the fallen opponent. Losing to them meant, “this time, perhaps, but save the tears to reflect on what you could have done better to win the next time.”

After World War II, America did not take over Germany or Japan and subject their people to imperial rule as Roman Caesars did when they defeated an enemy. America helped both nations rebuild so their people could prosper in democratic freedom from tyrannical rule.

America won without crowing… and left.

Those Great Depression/WWII parents sought to instill in their children those same qualities of working hard, self-sacrifice, loyalty and honor.

Apparently, those lessons have been forgotten by many in public and private life today.

We have a very contentious presidential election upon us. Militant progressives are threatening to riot and burn down the streets if Joe Biden is not elected president. Each side is gearing up for what could be a long, tedious, contentious legal battle that could stretch on for months unless there is a massive landslide one way or the other that no one in their right mind could contest.

Progressive liberal Democrats never gracefully accepted the results of the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton lost. They did not follow the lead of Richard Nixon in 1960 when he gracefully conceded to JFK, even though he knew at the time, which was proven and admitted to later, that Mayor Daley had stolen the election for JFK in Chicago, and JFK’s VP running mate, Lyndon Johnson, had stolen the election for JFK in Texas.

They did not follow the lead of then-VP Al Gore in 2000 when he gracefully conceded to George W. Bush 43 after an extended recount in Florida and subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court. Both Nixon and Gore could have formed a “resistance” movement and fought the new administrations tooth-and-nail for four years, but both men had enough decency and respect for the history of the United States and its people not to put the nation through such turmoil.

They both “lost without crying.” At least in public. Nixon in 1960 and Gore in 2000 set the bar for how losing political candidates should conduct themselves at any level of elective politics.

To their credit, JFK and Bush 43 “won without crowing” and set about to lead this country as the Constitution instructed chief executives to do.

Al Mann does not have a Wikipedia page dedicated to what he did for the young men of Durham long ago. Perhaps he should. Before next Tuesday’s election.


Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Margin of Error Explained by a Carny Barker at the State Fair

'Hey! You There! You Are Gonna Vote
Republican! Am I Right? Am I Right?'

Have you ever had a guy at the State Fair verbally accost you, saying he can name your age and if he is wrong, you would win a prize of your choice?

Ever notice what the margins of error are that makes him a winner and you a loser?

“If I guess within 3 years of your age, you lose!”

Depending on your age, that sounds reasonable.  At age 64, your inner egotistical mind might think: “Hey! He might think I am just 50! What do I have to lose other than $1?”

At age 7, the chances of losing are much higher. Most kids’ ages are easily guessed since plus/minus 3 years would put a 7-year old in the range of 4 to 10 years old that most anyone, including the carny barker, could readily guess.

If you were 64, the carny barker would have to guess either 60 and below or 68 and above for you to win. He intuitively has a 95% degree of confidence you are between the age of 61 (3 below 64) and 67 (3 above age 64).

The carny barker has 7 years to choose from, not just the three above or below your real age. He could guess 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66 or 67 and still win since he could guess you were 64.

Many public pollsters are the age-guessing carny barkers of the political world. They just don’t tell you they are.

When you see public polls saying, “Joe Biden Is Up 10% over President Trump!”, what you don’t hear are all of the caveats about their sample size and makeup. Many times, poll results are published that have no relationship or bearing on what the final demographic makeup of the voting electorate will be when the counting is done.

Many public pollsters are the age-guessing carny barkers of the political world. They just don’t tell you they are.

A public poll saying Biden is up 10 is trying to make you believe the final result of the election will be 55-45. Any poll is just a snapshot of the mood of the electorate on that date with that selected sample of people. Any political person can write questions and select a favorable sample to produce the results they want to produce to help their side win and depress the other side so they don’t vote.

Since the margin of error is plus or minus 3 for either side, 55% could be on the high side by 3 points and 45% could be on the low side by 3 points, meaning the gap could be just 4 at 52-48, much closer than a 10-point blowout.

Pollsters will say they have a 95% degree of confidence, meaning that they believe that 95 out of 100 times taking the poll with the same sample set of respondents, the result will be in the 55-45 range, including 52-48.

Nothing is ever really certain in politics, which is why we actually have elections and don’t rely on polls to elect our leaders.

Any statewide poll in North Carolina that is not based on interviewing a sample that will approximate a final voting electorate population that is roughly 74% white, 20% black, 5% Hispanic and 1% Asian or other races with appropriate educational level, income status, political affiliation and age distribution is suspect.

Six of the last 10 presidential elections in N.C. have been decided by less than 5 points. Only Bush 43 (twice), Bush 41 and Reagan ran away with double-digit victories in North Carolina.

Chances are there will be a close election on Nov. 3 in many statewide and district races. Emotions are running high amongst partisans on both sides, which guarantees increased enthusiasm to vote.

Just don’t let a carny barker pollster drive you crazy until then.

(first published in North State Journal 10/21/20)


Do You Want Better People to Run for Public Office?
Support the Institute for the Public Trust Today


Visit The Institute for the Public Trust to contribute today

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Go Back to the Future with “President” Joe Biden… If You Dare

The average annual rate of real GDP growth under the policies of President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden from 2010-2017 was 2.1%.  


There are no “ifs, ands or buts” about that fact. Anyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own set of fictional facts, to paraphrase former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY). 


Economic growth was not “great,” as Joe Biden and the Democrats want you to believe. In fact, it was dismal, desultory, sub-standard and poor. 


Most business owners, small and large, were on virtual strike during the entire Obama/Biden Administration. They were unwilling to invest, expand and hire aggressively until the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, when they realized the heavy-handed, business-unfriendly policies of Obama/Biden and Hillary Clinton were on their way out of the White House at noon Jan. 20, 2017. 


It was one of the worst periods of stagnant economic activity ever. Almost as bad as under President Jimmy Carter.  


Which is saying something. 


After the crushing economic recession of 1973-74 caused by the “oil crisis,” which looks almost quaint now that America is energy self-sufficient, the economy rebounded to grow an average of 5% in real GDP under the policies of President Gerald Ford in 1976 and into 1977. President Carter somehow figured out how to mismanage both fiscal and monetary policy such that the hellhounds of inflation (12%) and sky-high interest rates (21%) were unleashed on every American consumer, worker, retiree and citizen.  


Real GDP growth under Carter’s leadership collapsed to average only 1.86% per year from 1979-1981. 


President Reagan’s free market policies sparked real economic growth rates that averaged 4.5% annually from 1983 to 1988. The real 7.4% growth rate in 1984 is more related to the momentum coming out of bad recessions since so much of any recovery is attributed to regaining lost ground and jobs quickly.  


Every new administration elected after a recession has enjoyed the “miracle” of high economic growth rates far in excess of 2% in the first several years of new leadership. Except under VP Biden, who says he was appointed by President Obama to lead us out of the greatest recession since the Great Depression. 


George H.W. Bush 41 was defeated by the recession of 1990-91 that was still lingering far into 1992 when former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won in a three-way race that included Ross Perot. For seven out of the eight years of Clinton’s presidency, Americans enjoyed annual 4% real GDP growth rates fueled by the first internet boom. 


In 2010 at least, and certainly 2011, America should have experienced similar economic booms of 4%, 5%, 6% or 7%+ annual real economic growth rates that generated millions of new high-paying jobs.  


It did not happen. There was not one single year under VP Biden/President Obama’s leadership when America achieved real inflation-adjusted growth rates over 2.6%. 


How could it? First the financial banking system had to heal from massive wounds, most of it self-inflicted by reckless, overleveraged loan and investing policies. Then President Obama insisted on saddling the U.S. economy with much higher taxes, more federal deficit-spending, exorbitant regulation and a virtual government takeover of health care which constituted 16% of the entire economy. He and VP Biden crammed the ACA through Congress without a single Republican vote. 


Vice-President Biden whole-heartedly supported every single Obama policy. He never said anything negative about their joint strangulation of the American economy, not even when President Obama said 2% growth was the “new normal” for America. 


Mr. Biden wants you, the American voter, to go back with him in time to “the halcyon days of the Obama Administration,” a time that was so unsuccessful that the American economy, employment and stock market took off the day after Americans realized their terrible policies would end, because Hillary Clinton was not elected to continue them. 


Progressive liberals and #NeverTrumpers want to bring back those dark days to you, the America citizen. Go ahead if you want to vote for Joe Biden and other progressives, but just know you will be hurting yourself, along with 160 million other working Americans of all races, religions and ages who have prospered since Nov. 9, 2016. 


(first published in North State Journal 10/14/20)