Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What Has Happened To The Modern Democrat Party?

'Waddya mean we are not welcome to any Jefferson-Jackson
Democrat Party fundraiser anymore in America?'
(first published in North State Journal 7/25/18)

Much has been written about the Tea Party and the right-wing fundamentalist Christian influence on the Republican Party over the years.

Editorial writers seem to believe the more they write about ‘how dysfunctional’ the GOP is, the faster it will be driven into oblivion.

The last time the Republican Party held this many elected legislative seats nationwide in the US Senate, Congress and state legislatures and had occupants in the White House and 66% of the Governor Mansions was a century ago in the 1920’s.

Which brings to mind Mark Twain’s quip when informed that American newspapers were erroneously reporting he had died in London: “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.”

What about the Democrat Party? What has happened to them over the years?

If you had told a young Republican growing up in North Carolina in the 1960s and 70s that one day in their lifetime, Republicans would dominate the national and state landscape, they would have thought you were completely delusional.

Democrats controlled every possible lever of government from the Governor’s Mansion to dogcatcher across the state east of Morganton.  Democrats in North Carolina at the time tended to be fiscally responsible folks for the most part who balanced budgets with spending restraint first and resorting to tax hikes as a last resort, not the first option; supporters of free enterprise; advocates for a strong national defense; and fiercely anti-communist.

After filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Southern Democrats later supported civil liberties and a more active government stance as part of their coalition with northern liberals to control Congress for the next 30 years.

What has happened since then?

In 1985, there were 91 Southern Democrats in Congress. ‘Blue Dogs’ as they were known.

They typically voted with Republicans on economic, tax and defense-related issues. Which is why so much of the Reagan Revolution happened in the first place. They bucked the northern liberal leaders of their party on a regular basis to vote for common-sense legislation.

There are 8 Southern Blue Dog Democrats in Congress today. 4% of the Democratic Caucus.
4% does not constitute a majority. None of them are full committee chairs or in leadership positions in the Democrat Party in Congress.

Today’s national Democrat Party touts their ‘new and bold leadership for the future!’ as 76-year old, self-avowed-and-proud-of -it ‘Socialist’ Bernie Sanders, 69-year old Elizabeth Warren, and 28-year old completely socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Queens, New York.

Here’s what the leaders of the Democratic Party want to do today:
  • ·       No Borders!
  • ·       No ICE!
  • ·       Repeal Everyone’s Tax Cuts!
  • ·       Free Higher Education!
  • ·       Medicare for Everyone!
  • ·       Capitalism is Terrible!
  • ·       Socialism is Great!

What in the name of Andrew Jackson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, JFK and even Bill Clinton is going on with the modern Democrat Party?

The lack of vociferous opposition from any moderate Democrat about the direction of their national party is deafening. No Democrat voted for the tax cuts.  All of them will vote for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker if Democrats win Congress in November which means the socialist democrat agenda will be advanced, not the moderate Southern Democrat agenda.

Southern Democrats and Republicans disagreed on a few issues in the past but they voted together on the big issues for the good of the country such as job creation, the economy and national defense and security.

The Republican Party has its own internal issues to deal with. At least the GOP is heading towards more freedom and free enterprise. Not towards a socialist state.

Dozens of long-term Democrat political operatives in North Carolina have told me they have switched to Unaffiliated because of the leftward shift of the party.

Stay in the Socialist Democrat Party if you want. Or join 2,184,175 other North Carolinians who registered as Unaffiliated, the second largest affiliation in the state.

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, July 18, 2018

A Man Walks Into A Socialist Restaurant In Maine...

'I am pretty sure we didn't
fight the Civil War to save
America for socialism'
'No, we didn't, Mr. President.
No we didn't'

(first published in North State Journal 7/18/18)

While in Maine recently, we marveled at the beauty of the coastline, the bustling small towns and harbors and the majesty of Acadia National Park.

We also saw tons of portraits and lithographs of General US Grant and family on walls of shops and homes. Second was President Abraham Lincoln.

It was Maine. Not the South.

We went to a highly-recommended restaurant that featured organic, locally-sourced vegetables; fresh caught fish right from the dock boat and ‘the best hamburger ever made’ because of the high-quality meat served under summer tomatoes and lettuce.

Maybe it was a play on being the ‘social’ place to go in town but staff prominently displayed black t-shirts that read: “The ‘social-(ist)’ place to be in town.”

After being talked out of asking a lot of questions by my family, an internal discussion took place in my head with the waitress that went something like this:

“Soooo, is this really a ‘socialist’ restaurant?”

“Well, it is Maine. We love Bernie and Elizabeth and now Alexandria, ya know.”

“Ok, then. I’ll have this great burger everyone is talking about. Socialists want free college education and health care for everyone so I assume it is free as well, yes?”

“It is $17.99, sir”.

“Wow. I can get a Big Mac for $3.99. Why doesn’t your burger cost the same as a Big Mac?”

“Ours is better sir. Better ingredients, more healthy for you. The beef comes from cattle that are fed the highest-quality grass and heirloom corn their entire lives.”

“But I thought socialists thought everyone should be treated the same. Your burger should cost the same as a Big Mac, yes?”

“Can I get you a drink, sir?

“Are you paid the same as the person who owns this place? Does the proletariat staff share the profits equally on a pro-rata basis?”

“We work for the owner. She is a well-respected and award-winning chef here in Mid-coast Maine.”

“So I guess she took all the risks in buying this place, borrowing money, putting in new ovens and equipment and hiring the staff and filing the tax forms and got all the licenses needed to run a restaurant?”

‘Well, yes, I guess she did.”

“At $17.99/burger, y’all must be making a lot of profit, yes?”

“I guess so. I just started work here a coupla months ago.”

“Even though you have no money in this business, do you get an equal share of the profits? Do you get to go to the same place as the owner does in the winter when it gets brutally cold up here?”

“I think I heard she has a place in Turks and Caicos or somewhere like that.”

“If this place goes bust because someone gets salmonella poisoning from some organic lettuce that has not been properly cleaned before serving, will the banks that lent the money to start the business just write off the debt and forgive the debt entirely without taking any action to recover their money by putting liens on the owner’s home or other assets?”

“I really don’t know sir.”

“Should I tip you or not? I mean, after all, why should I reward any excellence on your part if it will be seen as ‘unfair’ to any of your colleagues?”

“I really don’t know what you are talking about, mister.”

‘This really isn’t a ‘socialist’ restaurant then, is it, ma’am? Socialism draws its energy from capitalism. A risk-taking entrepreneur with vision and talent starts a business to make profits to pay the bills and survive. No profits; no way to pay your wages, therefore, no job for you and no money for anyone else through social programs.”

“I guess so. I just work here, ya know”.

“Y’all Mainers know Grant and Lincoln were Republicans, don’t you?”

“Thanks for coming, sir. Have a nice trip.”

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, July 11, 2018

Debunking The Myths of Social Security

You get to choose: understand the facts behind
Social Security or believe in the myths of SS
(first published in North State Journal, 7/11/18)

Myth #1: Social Security is not an entitlement.

Social Security is not only an entitlement program, it is the largest and most prototypical federal entitlement program.  Virtually any credible glossary of federal budget terminology will point to Social Security as the leading example of an entitlement (specifically, an entitlement is a program in which payments are obligated to beneficiaries according to eligibility criteria set in law, without requiring annual legislation to appropriate funds).

Myth #2: Social Security wouldn’t be in financial trouble if politicians hadn’t stolen and spent its money.

Social Security trust fund reserves are by law invested in US Treasury securities, which finance federal government spending.  But this phenomenon has nothing do with Social Security’s shortfall.  Social Security still owns all that money and earns interest on it.  Whenever Social Security tax revenues fall short of its benefit obligations, as they have since 2010, Social Security taps both interest and principal of its trust funds to pay benefits.  Social Security’s shortfall exists despite the government’s repaying those funds to Social Security, not because it won’t.

Myth #3: Participants have paid for their benefits. 

Workers covered by Social Security contribute payroll taxes, which establish an entitlement to benefits for themselves and certain dependents.  However, this does not mean they have paid for the full amount of their scheduled benefits.  Social Security has a shortfall precisely because in the aggregate, workers have not paid for their benefits: total scheduled benefits well exceed what workers’ tax contributions, plus interest, can finance.

Myth #4: Social Security is solvent until the 2030s, so there is still plenty of time to fix it. 

How soon Social Security’s trust funds run out, and how soon we must act, are two entirely different things.  By the time its trust funds are depleted, annual income and costs will be so far apart that there is no realistic chance of legislation closing the shortfall.  The window of opportunity for correction is closing now, if it hasn’t closed already.

Myth #5: Because Social Security is self-financing, it doesn’t add to the federal budget deficit. 

Since 2010, as Social Security’s costs have exceeded its tax revenue, the federal government has been running larger deficits to fund the payments it owes to Social Security. The fact that the federal budget benefited from Social Security surpluses in the past doesn’t make its ongoing deficit-worsening outlays, during the years it pays Social Security back, any less real.

Myth #6: Taxing rich people more by raising the cap on taxable wages will fix the problem. 

There’s a statutory cap on each worker’s annual earnings subject to Social Security taxes -- $128,400 this year and indexed to grow automatically in most years.  Raising the taxable maximum from today’s level all the way to about $350,000 in 2022 would only eliminate about 14% of the structural deficit, in part because a worker’s benefits are linked to his tax contributions and thus the tax increase would generate higher benefits for the well-off.  That cost increase could be prevented by changing the benefit formula on the high-income end; but without benefit changes, a tax cap increase by itself doesn’t accomplish very much.

Myth #7: Social Security privatization is a live option. 

Many years ago when Social Security was running surpluses, presidents such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush suggested that workers be given the option of saving them in personal accounts. 

None of those proposals involved privatization, but instead would have allowed for individual saving within a publicly administered system. That opportunity vanished in 2010 when Social Security began running cash deficits.  Since then there have been no surplus Social Security contributions to save, and every program tax dollar collected now goes out the door to pay current benefits.

Despite the fact that this has long been a dead issue, occasional “privatization” fear-mongering continues.
===Written by Charles Blahous

Charles Blahous is the J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith chair and senior research strategist at the Mercatus Center, a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution, and a contributor to E21. He recently served as a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare. This article was originally published on

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, July 4, 2018

What Would Thomas Jefferson Write Today on July 4, 2018?

'Let's Get It Right This Time, Shall We?'
(first published in North State Journal, 7/4/2018)

‘In the course of human events, it becomes necessary from time to time for a nation of diverse people to reassess the political bands which have connected them together.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

To secure these rights, and to defend against the tyranny of a few against the many, we have a democratic republican form of self-government deriving their just powers from the consent of the free people governed.

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to register to vote to amend it and make it a better government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers that shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence will dictate that government programs long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and experience has shown that mankind is more disposed to suffer than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to reduce them under excessive government control, it is their right, it is their duty, to change such government, and to provide new safeguards for their future security.

Returning to our roots:

  • Every citizen is entitled to their own personal freedom as long as they do not impinge on the freedom to which others are entitled to pursue their dreams and ambitions.
  • The primary purpose of government is to provide secure physical defense from all threats, domestic and foreign, to allow individual freedom and creativity to flourish personally and professionally.
  • America always will be a ‘nation of laws’, not whims.
  • Each citizen will be responsible for their own actions and personal and family welfare.
  • Where the private sector can do the job, government should stay out of it.
  • Where the private sector can not, government can help people as temporary means of support.
  • Where state and local government can provide, the federal government will not.
  • The success of any assistance program, for individuals or businesses, will be measured not by how many people depend on it but how many people become independent of taxpayer help and are relieved of government dependence.
  • “Taxation ‘with’ representation” should produce a fair consumption tax to replace all extant federal taxes.
  • A defined contributions retirement program that will enrich each participant will replace Social Security.

We have reminded our elective officials over the past 8 decades of the creeping impediments of inept and over-reaching government interference into our lives. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity and urged them to take corrective action such as curbing the growth of our national debt, but they have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity to declare independence from the collectivist spirit of governance where the few want to control the lives of many. From this date on, we will do everything humanly possible to boost the independent spirit of what makes us all Americans.

We, therefore, the People of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, publish and declare, these Free and Independent citizens have full power to pursue freedom; gain knowledge; learn a trade; establish Commerce; take care of their families; speak and worship freely and to do all other acts and things which Independent people may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor'