Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Calvin Coolidge North Carolina General Assembly

"Keep It Up, North Carolina Republicans!"

Republicans who run the NC General Assembly are following the same sober and mature approach toward spending North Carolinians’ tax money as our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, did in Washington from 1923-1928.

We should be grateful.

North Carolina currently has close to $4.13 billion in so-called “over-collections” coming into state coffers which are surplus tax revenues expected due to stronger than expected economic growth during the COVID pandemic. When the state budget was vetoed, budgets reverted to prior year’s levels which contributed to the buildup of unrestricted reserve funds as well.

When combined with over $1 billion in the “rainy day fund,” North Carolina is in far better economic and fiscal health than many other states that have not been run as efficiently, despite the economic dislocations caused by the COVID pandemic.

The formula for success in North Carolina led by Republicans who have controlled the NCGA since 2011 closely follows the blueprint laid out by President Coolidge, who was elevated to the presidency when Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack. He followed his flinty New England inclinations and implemented traditional Republican principles that have been sadly forgotten in Washington and in big blue states around the nation.

Coolidge’s formula for success was simple: cut out wasteful and redundant spending first and then cut taxes second, which no Republican has done in Washington since 2001. His parsimonious approach to government is not even in the same planetary system as the Biden/Socialist Democrat plan to exponentially increase spending, raise taxes and debt at the same time, which is the biggest crapshoot America has ever seen under any president, including President Obama.

Once Coolidge and Republicans constrained government spending, the economy grew on its own accord due to the tax cuts and generated more tax revenue than anticipated. Coolidge’s formula included further budget-cutting each subsequent year which allowed more money to be spent in the private sector which generated more economic growth and subsequent surplus tax revenue to flow to Washington. Coolidge and the Republican Congress passed annual tax cuts to continue the upward cycle of more tax revenue due to economic growth, more budget-cutting and more tax cuts in each subsequent year.

Under Coolidge’s leadership, the federal budget was in surplus every year from 1924 to 1928. The top income tax rate was halved to 25%, and federal spending was cut more than 40%. Federal debt was retired by over 30%. Unemployment for all Americans hit a record low of 1.8% under Coolidge.

Since 2011, Republicans who have controlled the North Carolina General Assembly have followed similar traditional Republican policies. They established a flat income tax rate, now down to 5.25%, on individuals, and slashed corporate income tax rates by close to 70%, which resulted in over $2 billion staying with its rightful owners, North Carolina taxpayers.

With increased economic growth, they paid back $3 billion in unemployment insurance loans to the federal government, which had been accumulated under former Gov. Beverly Perdue, in less than two years. Over $1.4 billion in direct disaster relief assistance has been paid out of the reserve funds directly to victims for losses sustained from Hurricanes Florence and Dorian.

With over $4 billion in reserve, the N.C. General Assembly could continue the lather, rinse, repeat budget reduction and tax cuts cycle that President Coolidge enacted from 1924 to 1928 to bring North Carolina rapid economic growth and prosperity for decades to come.

Republican leaders in the NCGA should use this cushion in the reserve fund to continue to lower income tax rates and eventually eliminate both personal and corporate income tax rates. North Carolina would become an economic nuclear reactor for the 21st century, as Texas and Florida are poised already to become as zero income tax states.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling for nations around the globe to raise corporate taxes to match the higher rates President Biden wants to install and avoid “the race to the bottom,” as she called lower rates.

Silent Cal would argue precisely the opposite. North Carolina should continue to follow his lead.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Spirit of Religion and the Spirit of Liberty Are What Made (Makes) America Great

J’espère que les Américains
ne bousilleront pas l’Amérique un jour !*
Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the early days of the Republic on an official mission for the French department of the interior to study the US penitentiary system. What he discovered as he traveled America became one of the seminal works on government in world history, “Democracy in America,” published in 1835. 

He discovered the Anglo-American civilization “…is the result of two quite distinct elements, which elsewhere have often been at war but in America have somehow been incorporated into one another and marvelously combined. I allude to the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty.” 

He observed religious liberty in America which allowed minimal, decentralized democratic representative government to be established at the local, state and national level. Both could not exist without the other, he said, or else eventually the new American republic would fail. 

Religious freedom in America allowed people to govern themselves and negate the necessity for powerful government to be concentrated in the hands of kings, tyrants or councils that often ruled in capricious ways. Without a virtuous, self-governed populace, the need for concentrated power in the hands of a few would become a necessity for no other reason than keeping the peace based solely on observable human nature. 

As activists seek to dismantle traditional norms in our culture that have emanated from our historical journey as a nation based on Judeo-Christian principles, we are faced with what James R. Wood referred to as a Tocquevillian conundrum in his March 25 review of Shadi Hamid’s essay in The Atlantic, “America without God,” published in Providence magazine: 

“We have to also account for the Böckenförde Paradox: the idea that liberal societies depend on non-liberal realities that liberal structures can neither produce nor sustain. Liberal societies require a virtuous, and thus religious, citizenry, as many of the Founding Fathers recognized. But, as the Tocquevillians have long argued, liberal societies seem to undermine the very institutions that inculcate such virtue…Such societies do this…through the general disdain expressed toward religion by individuals, academia, the entertainment industry, the media, etc.” 

When the populace ceases to be religious, then politics becomes “religion” for partisan followers. “Without morality, freedom cannot reign and without faith there is no basis for morality” he wrote. Societies without morality and faith would devolve into a state of Darwinist survival of the fittest, where it doesn’t matter who is more moral or ethical but which political faction has the financial, technological and organizational resources to take over full control of the government and tell everyone else what to say, think and do. It sets up bitter conflicts that never get resolved. 

Witness the cancel culture around us or the rampant censorship of opposing views by the titans of social media outlets. There is no appeal to a high authority in the religious sense of such actions — only a statement that those who are censored have opinions or views about public policy matters with which the media titans disagree. 

There is no other reason to argue for the abolition of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate if it is not to make certain political beliefs the state-mandated “religion” for everyone to obey and follow. Ending the filibuster would render the U.S. Senate to the status of being just another legislative body instead of the crucible of reason and compromise which has served America for 232 years. 

About 35% of all millennials now consider themselves to be “nones,” as in having no religious affiliation, and 23% of all voters are “nones,” up from 16% in 2007. Based on what de Tocqueville observed 186 years ago, it is easy to envision a day when America ceases to be a religious nation and becomes a secular socialist nation as France and other European nations have become. Not only would he be shocked at the amount of control Americans have ceded to Washington bureaucrats, he would also be stunned at animus directed toward religious people by today’s media and left-wing socialists. 

Easter is a good time to reflect not only on our personal salvation but about how important our religious beliefs are to our collective life together as Americans. The spirit of religion and freedom go hand in hand with each other in America. One of them goes and our democratic republic dissolves with it. 

(first published in North State Journal 3/31/21)

*J’espère que les Américains ne bousilleront pas l’Amérique un jour ! in French roughly translated means "Man! I sure hope Americans don't screw up America one day!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Insane Futility of Taxing the Rich

President Joe Biden has declared emphatically he will get a massive tax hike through Congress, and he will sign it. 

Knock yourself out, Mr. President. Raising tax rates has never paid for all the new spending anyone has gotten through Congress. Tax revenue flowing to Washington has held remarkably steady at around 18.5% of GDP following multiple tax hikes, cuts and reforms every year since 1970. 

Tax revenues will be around 18.5% after President Biden and his band of merry, liberal, socialist Democrats pass their tax plan. The problem is everyone, including a lot of Republicans, keep proposing more spending we can’t pay for with current revenue. Spending has held remarkably steady as well at 21% of GDP since 1970. America has borrowed an average of 3% of GDP each year since, which is why we now have $28 trillion in national debt instead of $0. 

In early March, the CBO estimated U.S. deficits over the next 10 years will be $12 trillion before any new spending is enacted, including the recent $1.9 trillion COVID bill.  

President Biden’s “soak the rich” tax plan that CBO guesstimates will raise $3 trillion is a veritable spit in the bucket when it comes to paying our bills. $3 trillion in new taxes over a decade averages $300 billion annually. After liberal, socialist Democrats celebrate “making the rich pay their fair share!”, whatever that is at any moment in time, there will still be close to $1 trillion — $900 billion — in annual budget deficits left to cover. 

Then what? Then taxes will trickle down to upper-income and then middle-income taxpayers through bracket creep and inflation. There is no way Biden’s tax plan will not eventually hit millions of taxpayers below $400,000 as he promised. 

Higher tax rates almost never raise the amount of tax revenue the CBO estimates. The CBO uses a static forecasting method which ignores any behavioral changes, such as rich people hiring more tax accountants and lawyers to protect their income and assets from higher taxes or moving their wealth offshore. 

Economic conditions and investor confidence determine tax revenue to Washington much more than US tax law. President Herbert Hoover proposed massive tax increases on the rich to reduce massive budget deficits caused by the Great Depression in 1930. Less than 10% of the revenue forecasted ever materialized.  

Government is the most inefficient means possible to get money to the poor. A 2007 study by James Rolph Edwards, “The Costs of Public Income Distribution and Private Charity,” revealed that two-thirds of marginal tax revenue raised goes to support middle-income bureaucrats and overhead costs. One-third gets to the poor people for whom the bill was intended. The reverse is true in private charitable organizations where even the most inefficient charity spends only 33% on manpower and overhead costs to deliver the same assistance to the same poor person. 

The poor would be much better off if President Biden could somehow order billionaires to pay $300 billion per year directly to people on poverty without the government middleman taking its massive vig that any casino would admire. $10,000 would go directly to each poor person; man, woman and child. A poor family of four would receive $40,000 on top of benefits they currently receive each and every year. 

Here’s the show-stopping question no socialist Democrat wants to hear or try to answer: “If raising taxes and spending trillions of dollars was going to solve all of our poverty problems, wouldn’t poverty in America have been abolished by now?” 

American taxpayers have spent $28 trillion (in 2016 dollars) since 1970 to defeat poverty — 3.5 times more than America has spent on all wars combined since the Revolution. U.S. poverty rates have fluctuated between 11% and 15% since 1970, with 2019 being the lowest in recent memory at 11.7%, primarily due to the expansion of jobs under President Trump. 

Taxing the rich doesn’t work. It just helps liberal, socialist Democrats feel better without making any real difference. They will never confiscate all rich people’s wealth to pay for all their utopian wish lists, so they should stop trying. 

(first published in North State Journal 3/24/21)

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Where Is "Moderate Joe" Biden?

"'President' Edith Bolling Galt
telling Woodrow Wilson
where to sign"

Every senior moderate Democrat in North Carolina assured us during the campaign that Joe Biden was a moderate. They said he would stand in the way of the left-wing, extreme-liberal socialists who control the Democratic Party today.  

“He is no Bernie Sanders,” they all promised in unison. 

Based on his first 56 days in office, it is impossible to tell the difference between President Joe Biden and socialist Bernie Sanders. There is no difference politically between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders — and Vice-President Kamala Harris, for that matter. 

No moderate president would agree to a monstrosity of a waste of taxpayer money bill as President Biden did last week when he signed the massive $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill. No moderate would support HR 1, which would destroy all state and local control of elections. No moderate would call for unity and then sign ultra-partisan bills crammed through Congress without one vote from the opposition party.  

It is as if “Moderate Joe” Biden has been kidnapped and held hostage in the White House. Or perhaps something more serious has happened. 

The last medical report released about Joe Biden’s health was on Dec. 15, 2019, when he was still former-Vice-President Joe Biden, a candidate with a very slim chance to win the Democratic nomination as the moderate. Kevin O’Connor, DO, associate professor and doctor of osteopathy at George Washington University, concluded his report:  

“Vice President Biden is a healthy, vigorous 77-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those of Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief.” 

He may have been fit for the challenges of the “most important job in the world” 15 months ago. However, President Biden has exhibited neither the will nor the strength to govern as a moderate. He was either elected under false pretenses, or something has happened to him that has clouded his judgment about what his moderate political philosophy would look like once elected president. 

Being president of the United States of America is not a routine job or an emeritus board position. Presidents make life-and-death decisions, including sending troops into battle. When they affix their signature to legislation, it is the final step in our constitutional process which can set policies in place for decades, not months. 

Americans have seen serious medical conditions of presidents covered up by a fawning press beforePresident Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke in October 1919 and spent the last 16 months of his presidency essentially bedridden. His wife made most of the major policy decisions for America in the White House while his handlers and a compliant press protected Wilson from the public.  

President John F. Kennedy was almost incapacitated by intense back pain while in the White House. He received daily injections of pain-killers and had to take barbiturates to sleep. JFK took anti-psychotic drugs on at least one occasion — it is a good thing it apparently wasn’t during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 when America came to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. 

FDR was the most well-known invalid in the White House. He contracted polio in 1921 but with the aid of a compliant press, his struggles with the disease were well-hidden from the public for his entire 11 years in the White House.  

President Biden has not held a live press conference. He hasn’t scheduled a State of the Union address. He doesn’t take random questions after making a prepared speech read from a teleprompter. He gets yanked off the stage by his handlers as if he were a vaudevillian performer who bombed. 

If he had governed as a moderate to this point as promised, there would not be the same cause for concern. When there is no discernible difference between what Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would do in the White House, that is an alarm bell that has to be addressed. 

Over 81 million people voted for Joe Biden believing he was fully healthy, fully moderate and fully capable of discharging the immense duties of the presidency. They may have been deceived and misled by his campaign and a press that hated President Trump so much they would cover up anything to get him out of the White House. 

It is time for an independent medical examination of the president to be conducted by a respected neurologist, psychiatrist and general physician who is not a political appointee.   

(first published in North State Journal 3/17/21

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Medicare Boomer Apology To His Younger Self

"Keep Your Hands Off Of
My Government-Sponsored
To my 22-year-old idealistic self, I apologize. To the millions of Boomers who had to pay for a rising tide of entitlements for the past 40 years, I apologize. To the millions of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Boomers to come, please accept my deepest, most profound apology as well. 

I apologize for failing to help reform entitlements back when it would have made a difference. At any time along the way, from 1980 to 2006, had Congress, the U.S. Senate and any president screwed up enough courage, and brains, to reform entitlement programs once and for all, we would not be in the budget and national debt morass we are in today. 

Oh sure, there were some sporadic attempts to reform entitlements over the years and some minor success was achieved.  But in 1985, if a soothsayer had told budget staffers the eligibility age for Medicare would still be 65 and cost US taxpayers $722 billion — 4.4% of GDP — in FY 2021, they would have been laughed out of Washington. Surely, we thought, and believed, future politicians would not be foolish enough to ignore entitlement growth and let them spin out of control and go bankrupt 40 years in the future. 

At the very minimum, Medicare should have been amended to be on the same age eligibility track as Social Security. Social Security recipients must be 66 years and 4 months to receive full benefits today. They will have to be 67 by 2029. 

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are on Medicare simply due to their age, not their income, wealth or health status. They could buy any hospital in the country for cash and get treated for every ailment under the sun by the best doctors in the world. They do not need the payroll taxes of a blue-collar plumber in Warsaw, North Carolina, to help them pay their medical bills. 

One out of every six seniors over age 65 possesses over $1 million in assets, including their home. Instead of being on a comprehensive Medicare plan, they should be enrolled in a managed care plan with catastrophic insurance provisions and pay a far higher share of their health care costs due to their income status. 

It is a colossal failure of the modern welfare state of America that middle-to-low-income wage-earners are being taxed at all to pay 90% of health care costs for super-wealthy senior citizens. 

No rich person in America should be on welfare. 

To be honest and truthful to my rebellious 22-year-old self, I admit, I did breathe a huge sigh of relief when I was forced by law to cancel my private individual health plan to enroll in Medicare. I finally escaped the $1,100/month premium, $11,000 annual deductible and $7,500 family out-of-pocket coinsurance cost of my individual private health plan for the past decade. Before Obamacare passed in 2010, my monthly family health insurance premiums were below $350/month with annual deductibles below $3,000.  

My monthly Medicare premium is now $398/month with $1484 deductible for Part A (hospital) and $203 for Part B (doctor). Going on taxpayer-funded Medicare will feel like a $25,000 tax refund due to much lower annual out-of-pocket costs for premiums, deductibles and copays. 

I will never join AARP for their part in blocking every sane and sober entitlement reform over the past 40 years. I will never forgive them for their “Republicans Killing Granny” ads. At every turn, the AARP, liberal activist groups and Democrats stopped any reasonable Medicare reform cold for the past 40 years that would have truly saved Medicare instead of bankrupting it for everyone very soon. 

Medicare, Social Security and every entitlement program are going to be huge problems for every Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z worker going forward. Their payroll taxes are likely to go up at least 25% and higher for the rest of their lives. 

Every Boomer on Medicare would like to thank every younger worker for paying 90% of their health care costs, just as our parents thanked us. Deep down, however, we are sorry we didn’t fix it for you, for us and for America.   

We could have done it, but we didn’t. It is all on us. 

(first published in North State Journal 3/10/21)

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

When COVID Relief Is Just Plain Pork Spending

I have seen a lot of gargantuan spending bills go through Congress in the form of budget reconciliation or omnibus appropriations at the end of a contentious session.

I don’t think I have ever seen one so loaded up with extraneous spending that has nothing to do with dealing with the crisis at hand as the second COVID-relief plan passed by the Democratic Congress last week, the American Relief Plan (ARP). Not OBRA, COBRA, TEFRA, EGTRRA or PPACA, otherwise known as Obamacare.

None of them come close.

There is $1.5 billion in this bill for AMTRAK. AMTRAK has never been profitable since inception in 1971. COVID didn’t cause current problems at AMTRAK; AMTRAK structure and management has always caused problems at AMTRAK.

There is $350 billion to bailout big blue cities and states that have been massively mismanaged for decades. There is $86 billion included specifically to bailout blue state and city pensions, such as in Illinois where many retired government workers receive $350,000 in annual pension payments. COVID didn’t cause financial problems in big blue cities; big blue city politicians have overpromised and overspent for decades, which has caused financial problems in big blue cities.

The list of egregious pork spending in this COVID relief bill is embarrassing. There is $200 million for museums and libraries — even though they were shut down for an entire year; $270 million for the NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts. There is $128 billion for K-12 public education — except 95% of this money will not be spent until between 2022 and 2028, not in 2021.

There may be $600 billion in this bill that can reasonably be tied to COVID relief including funding for more vaccines ($75B), PPP ($473B), aid to ailing restaurants ($26B), assistance to airlines ($15B) and $7.2B for PPP for small businesses that have been wrecked by gubernatorial executive shut down orders for the past year.

Had the bill stopped there, President Joe Biden might have had his first truly bipartisan victory for “unity,” with a majority of Republicans voting for it in the House and the Senate.

The remainder of the $1.3 trillion is pure partisan politics. Democrats are paying off the constituencies that elect them and who helped defeat President Trump. There is no other way to look at it.

Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar offered an amendment to take out all non-COVID-related spending in the bill and convert it into sending $10,000 checks to these people most affected by COVID instead of $1400.

It was defeated along party lines. Democrats want to send more money to big blue state politicians to distribute to their supporters instead of directly to the average American family.

Remember the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Nowheresville, Alaska, which forever tarnished the career of Sen. Ted Stevens in 2005? The left and the media rightfully jumped on the Bridge to Nowhere to highlight how elected officials waste federal dollars with no regard to the consequences.

There is the equivalent of 2,222 wasteful “Bridges to Nowhere” in this solidly Democratic bill that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “swears” is “big, bold COVID relief!” It most definitely is not all related to COVID.

One thing that is truly “bipartisan” in Washington, sadly, is the astounding amount of federal debt both parties in control of the White House and Congress have amassed since 2001. Federal debt owed to the public was $3 trillion before 9/11. If this bill becomes law, debt owed to the public will approach $24 trillion by the end of 2021. Roughly $6 trillion in intragovernmental debt is owed between the government and such programs as the Social Security Trust Fund which will never be repaid.

If, or rather when, inflation is triggered again by such fiscal malfeasance and explosive money supply growth by the Federal Reserve, then all of us — rich, poor, black, white, young and old — will really be in this mess together.

President Joe Biden seems to want to steer America back to the stagflation economic doldrum days last seen under President Jimmy Carter in 1979-81. He has only been in the White House for 41 days; imagine what economic damage he and the Democrats might do over the next four years.

(first published in North State Journal 3/3/21)

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Celebrating Black (Republican) History Month

Congressman John Hyman
R-NC2  1875-1877
An interested reader in North Carolina can scour social and print media all month long and not come across a single reference tying the Grand Old Party, the Republican Party, to citizenship for former slaves after the Civil War.

Until now, that is.

There is not much black history in the South other than slavery until the intervention of Republicans in the early-to-mid 19th century. Anti-slavery activists were National Republicans before 1832 when Henry Clay formed the Whig Party in opposition to President Andrew Jackson’s “imperial presidency.” 

The Whigs carried the abolition banner until 1854 when Abraham Lincoln helped regenerate the Republican Party as an anti-slavery party. Abolitionists in the North were Radical Republicans. A large majority of the 2 million Union soldiers who saw action in the war voted Republican in 1864 as they fought and died to finish the war, which they knew would result in freedom and citizenship for 3 million slaves.

After the South’s surrender in April of 1865, newly freed slaves registered to vote as Republicans in a tidal wave that shifted political power in Congress and the electoral college to the South. Every one of the 391,650 black citizens of North Carolina as of 1870 who voted was a Republican. Blacks voted overwhelmingly for Republican candidates until World War I. It wasn’t until the economic devastation of the Great Depression that black citizens started voting for Democrats in large majorities, which mirrored the change in white voting patterns as well.

Every black elected official in North Carolina was a Republican between 1868 and 1901. Four black Republican US Congressmen were sent to Washington from the “Black Second” Congressional District: John Hyman (1875), James O’Hara (1883), Henry Cheatham (1889) and George White (1897). One-hundred-twenty-seven black Republicans served in the N.C. General Assembly — 101 in the House and 26 in the Senate — during the latter part of the 19th century.

If the genealogy of any living black resident of North Carolina can be traced back to a former slave, that former slave was a Republican, not a Democrat.

I ran for Congress in 1984 in the aforementioned Second Congressional District. One newspaper editor in a rural county said he agreed with most everything I said but he wouldn’t endorse my candidacy for Congress. When asked why, he said, “Because of what the Republicans did to North Carolina!”

I thought he meant Hoover and the Depression. After thinking about it awhile, it occurred to me that he was talking about Lincoln and the carpetbaggers during Reconstruction.

He was 93 years old at the time. He had grown up listening to his dad and grandpa curse Republicans for ruining North Carolina. As a result, he was a “mossy-back Democrat,” because he “was so old he had moss growing on his back.”

Despite ferocious opposition and personal physical attack from white Southern Democrats, brave black and white Republicans banded together to control North Carolina politics, education, business and industry for most of the last 30 years of the 19th century. Wilmington was North Carolina’s largest and most prosperous city at the time and was home to the largest amount of wealth creation by black businessmen in the state.

It wasn’t until the heinous murders of scores of blacks in Wilmington and a subsequent coup of state government by Southern Democrats in 1898 that Republicans, both black and white, were disenfranchised and relegated to an insignificant role in state politics until almost a century later when Reagan won the White House in 1980.

There is a historical umbilical cord joining free black citizens in the South and Republicans. Revisionists may try to cut it from history books, but erasing history doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. 

Celebrating the bravery of black elected leaders and businessmen who prospered in North Carolina after the Civil War has to include the crucial role of Republican ideals, policies and politicians, or else it is untrue and incomplete.

Republicans today believe in the same core values as the GOP did in 1854: freedom of speech, thought and faith; equality of opportunity; limited government; and the rule of law regardless of skin color, background or socio-economic situation. When black Republican candidates embrace those core Republican values and principles, they get elected by Republicans — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina and U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina are two prominent examples.

The bravery of black Republicans in North Carolina after the Civil War is almost beyond comprehension. It needs to be remembered and saluted as such during Black History Month.

(first published North State Journal 2/24/21)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Witch Hunts and Conspiracy Theories

Setting The Tone for
American Politics for
Centuries to Come
 Americans love two things: witch hunts and conspiracy theories.

Americans periodically get mesmerized by witch hunts such as the charges of Russian Collusion brought by Democrats against then-President-elect Donald Trump before he was even sworn into office in 2016. The fantastical scope of conspiracy theories postulated for the past four years which culminated in not one but two impeachment proceedings made even the craziest conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy Assassination look sane by comparison.

British historian Paul Johnson observed, "America seems particularly prone to these spasms of self-righteous political emotion in which all sense of perspective and the national interest is lost."

No one has said it better. America has had such paroxysms before: the Salem Witch Trials, 1692. The Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s under John Adams. The Sedition Acts in 1917-1918 under Woodrow Wilson. The Red Scare of the 1950s under Senator Joe McCarthy. Watergate, Irangate, Whitewatergate, Travelgate…the list never ends.

Most of the time, political witch hunts are a colossal waste of time, effort and energy. They usually end in no convictions, no proof revealed and no conspiracies uncovered. It is hard enough to get political people to agree on a date for a lunch meeting and to then show up on time without blabbing to the press, much less plot to overthrow our government and cooperate with Putin and his hackers.

Conspiratorial theories are one thing. Flawless execution of a legal and political strategy, such as what has been pulled off by the Soros Open Society Foundation and the Arabella Advisors network in states such as Colorado and Georgia for the past decade, is entirely another topic.

While Congress played the conspiracy fiddle for the past four years, the national debt exploded from $22 trillion to $28 trillion; the COVID virus invaded America; and China continued to gain economically and politically around the world at the expense of American influence and prestige. The nation’s work has been ignored for the sake of political expediency.

Periods of political hysteria in America are usually measured in months, perhaps a few years. They usually end when a brave person steps up, such as when Army counsel Joseph Welch popped the witch hunt balloon of Joe McCarthy in 1954 by saying during a hearing, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

When the American people start demanding a sense of maturity and decency from their elected officials in Washington and the media, this current state of hysteria will end. When conservatives stop subscribing to the New York Times or buying stuff from Amazon, they will go out of business. When conservatives who have been viciously attacked online or in-person or censored by people on the left file lawsuits based on existing hate crime statutes — because that is what is really going on when the left “hates” someone for what they believe or say — the left will be forced to retreat.

Former Congressman McMillan, with whom I worked on Capitol Hill for a decade, often would remark as he watched a liberal Democrat on the floor of Congress figuratively foam at the mouth attacking Republicans on some issue or the other, “I hope they keep the cameras on him. The more he talks, the more he makes the case for our side, because he simply does not know what he is talking about.”

Proverbs tells us that “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” In a quote often misattributed to Mark Twain, the same sentiment holds: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”.

The American people may be fooled some of the time by political theatre and machinations. But they cannot be fooled all of the time. And when they get tired of being fooled, they will wreak havoc on the offending party come election time.

(first published in North State Journal 2/17/21)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Build Real Equity, Mr. President!

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S domestic policy advisor Susan Rice went to great lengths to explain how the Biden Administration was not only going to somehow wave a magic wand and proclaim “equality” in every federal agency but guarantee everyone achieves “equity” as well.

Equality connotes the sense of fairness and freedom of opportunity, the very essence of American values. Equity by fiat demands everyone’s outcome will be the same even though their individual input in terms of work, education and plain God-given abilities are not ever going to be equal — the very definition of socialism.

Equity cannot be mandated through President Biden’s executive pen or a law passed by Congress. Real equity, however, can be built for everyone through the miracle of investing and tax-free cash value buildup if done correctly over a long period of time. Instead of paying lip-service to the socialist dream of equity, the Biden Administration could take the bold first step that will provide a truly amazing amount of “real equity” for every American citizen for the rest of our history:
  • Make Social Security a defined contribution 401k plan for everyone.
It would be the singular most important step towards financial security for every average American citizen since passage of the Homestead Acts in the mid-to-late 19th century. It would exceed the benefits of any massive tax cut favored by Republicans — 50%+ of citizens pay no income tax to begin with — or gargantuan increases in entitlements and domestic welfare programs favored by liberal Democrats, which are weighing down our children and grandchildren with debt they cannot pay.

Social Security (SS) should have been established as a 401k program at inception in 1935 — except there were no 401k plans until 1978. Or in 1983 when the Greenspan Commission hiked payroll taxes but didn’t change the structure of Social Security. Or during any session of any Congress for the past 38 years.

We have reached the inflection point where younger workers today will not receive a positive net real return on their lifetime payroll tax “contributions” (sic) to SS during retirement. According to former Social Security Trustee Charles Blahous, every younger worker today will lose 3% of their net income during their lifetimes paying SS payroll taxes to the federal government as he explains in his worthwhile report, “An Analytical Framework for Strengthening Social Security,” published by the Mercatus Center.

Boomers retiring today can expect perhaps a 1% real rate of return on all the money paid into SS on their behalf from their paychecks matched by their employers. None of their money went into a true individual investment account where those funds were allowed to grow with tax-free dividends, interest and capital-gains over time. $100 paid in SS taxes one pay period went to Washington, D.C., where it was paid out in SS benefits to Grandpa Jones in Ames, Iowa, the next month.

Minimum wage earners for an entire work career could amass a fortune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in their personal retirement account if every payroll tax dollar they had withheld from their paychecks went into a private 401k plan. Social Security taxes are not tax-deductible at the personal level, which is another impediment to significant wealth accumulation by average working folks.

Minimum wage earners of the past can expect to receive around $1,000/month in Social Security checks after retirement. That is Social Insecurity (SI), not Social Security (SS).

The most unfair and “inequitable” aspect of SS has been the lack of ability to build wealth to pass on to a spouse or children, for people of all races. It is especially acute for black men; the average lifespan of a black male did not pass 67 years until 1997. Many black men died before receiving $1 in SS benefits after a lifetime of work. Had they been able to put their SS money in a true 401k plan, even if they died early at age 60, they could pass along a portfolio of many hundreds of thousands of dollars to a surviving spouse and children instead of relatively meager survivor benefits.

Want to achieve “true” equity, Mr. President and Domestic Policy Advisor Rice? Lead the charge to amend the Social Security system and make it a private plan for every individual for their 21st century
retirement needs.

Younger voters and black men should demand it and march in the streets to make it happen.

(first published in North State Journal 2/10/.21)

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