Your Voice is Needed Now

Showing how little regard the Obama administration and a large percentage of both Democrats and Republicans have for our rights to privacy, today the Obama administration is pushing the US Senate to pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 before opposition from several lawmakers can either stall or alter the bill to actually respect the rights of the American people.

Computerworld provides some details:

Four White House officials called on the Senate to pass the revised Cybersecurity Act, a bill that would create a new mechanism for businesses to share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.

The bill would also create a new intra-agency council to work with private companies to develop cybersecurity standards that businesses could voluntarily adopt. The bill would offer incentives to companies that volunteer for cybersecurity programs, including protection from lawsuits related to cyberincidents and increased help and information on cybersecurity issues from U.S. agencies.

It’s “imperative” for the Senate to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislature, John Brennan, assistant to President Barack Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, said during a press briefing. The bill would give cybersecurity professional the “tools they need to deal with this increasingly sophisticated and pervasive threat,” he added.

Anti-privacy Senators are pushing this bill to hand the reins of our cybersecurity systems to the miligary intelligence agencies like the NSA, the very agency responsible for the warrantless wiretapping program instituted under the Bush administration and expanded by the Obama administration.

Not everyone in the US Senate is happy about this, there is an amendment that would help go a long way to neuter the outrageous violations that this bill would use.  Senators Franken and Paul have teamed up to offer the Franken-Paul amendment that would ensure that companies do not have new, overbroad authority to monitor and even block our private communications.

But the purpose of this bill is very clear.  It would incentivize private companies to collect AND hand over communications that take place on private servers over to the government.  The thinking is that this will not violate anyone’s rights since the government would not be demanding the info, it would just be given to them.

And that’s the insidiousness of the whole idea, we, the American people, would be paying the government through taxes to pay private companies to spy on us…

This bill is not needed and is a gross violation of our rights.

This is also the end result of ‘bipartisanship’.  I keep hearing many calling on our government to lead through bipartisanship, but whenever that happens, that is when our rights get stripped.  When neither of the parties is blocking the overreach of the government being pushed by the other party, the end result is the further erosion of our rights.

Stand up for the rights, not just yours but everyone’s.  It’s the American thing to do.  Blocking this outrageousness is the real imperative.

Obama & Romney, Identical Cousins

With supporters of both the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates treating each other as if they are total opposites in their views, but the reality is that there is very little difference between the two.  A recent article written has listed out 100 areas in which they are similar.

W E Messamore has compiled a list of 100 Ways Mitt Romney is Just Like Barak Obama.  It was based on a New York Times article that could only come up with three, obviously they didn’t give it much thought.  Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

4. The signature legislative accomplishment of the man that Republicans have chosen to repeal and replace “ObamaCare” was “RomneyCare,” which was the blueprint and model for The Affordable Care Act.

11. The same Wall Street recipients of TARP bailout money that were top Obama donors in 2008 are top Romney donors in 2012.

14. Like Obama, Romney supports taxpayer bailouts of struggling corporations– handouts that go from hardworking Americans to wealthy companies with irresponsible management.

19. Another thing that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have in common is that the numbers strongly suggest they were both wrong about the 2009 economic stimulus package.

21. On monetary policy, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama do not see any urgent need to change the status quo and any reform of the Federal Reserve system is not a public policy priority for either candidate.

22. Like Barack Obama, who reappointed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Mitt Romney has approved of Ben Bernanke’s handling of the financial crisis and monetary policy in America.

23. Mitt Romney approves of Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner’s record on economic policy as well.

32. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama‘s federal budget plans would add trillions of dollars to the already unsustainable national debt over the next ten years.

33. Neither Mitt Romney, nor Barack Obama have offered a plan of detailed, substantive spending cuts to the out-of-control federal budget that pass the straight face test.

36. Neither Barack Obama, nor Mitt Romney‘s actions are consistent with their rhetoric on earmarks.

37. Spending categorized as defense-related has only gone up during President Obama’s first term from $616 billion under Bush in 2008 to $768 billion in 2011, and Obama still wants even more. So does Romney.

42. Despite running on a platform of change, Obama’s first term as president has demonstrated his commitment to the Bush era strategies of nation building and counter-insurgency. Mitt Romney doesn’t think Obama’s commitment to nation building is strong enough.

43. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the Bush era doctrine of preemptive war.

44. Mitt Romney agrees with President Obama that the president can act unilaterally to take the country to war without Congress.

45. Though Obama paints Romney as an American unilateralist willing to take military action without the blessing and cooperation of the international community, Romney and Obama actually both agree with the Bush era foreign policy of unilateral US military action, and Obama took unilateral military action in the Osama bin Laden raid.

51. Barack Obama has been a consistent supporter and escalator, as both Senator and President, of George W. Bush’s war and counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Mitt Romney thinks he isn’t supportive enough.

56. Tim Pawlenty– on Romney’s short list for a VP– has suggested that Mitt Romney would expand Barack Obama’s already unprecedented use of drone warfare.

61. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney support indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial as a valid and legal tool in the national security state’s war on terrorism.

66. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the warrantless wiretapping of the Bush-era USA Patriot Act, which Romney has praised and Obama has acted to renew multiple times as both Senator and President.

68. Like Obama, Romney believes in the legitimate power of the president to execute American citizens by “targeted killing” done in secret without charges or trial.

69. Mitt Romney emphatically supported Barack Obama’s decision in 2011 to use “targeted killing” to execute US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by drone strike without charges or trial.

70. On the Bush and Obama-era TSA, Mitt Romney’s position is tinker a little, but maintain the status quo.

72. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support continuing drug prohibition and the forty-year-old, Nixon-era War on Drugs.

73. Mitt Romney also supports the continued raids and prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries (and even patients) that have characterized Obama Administration as well as Bush-era policy on medical marijuana.

75. Despite criticizing Bush for unconstitutional executive overreach via signing statements, Obama has continued the practice, and Mitt Romney says he will too.

The writer leaves several more out that they couldn’t fit into the 100.  In reality the list could continue for quite some time.

People were tired of Bush and wanted something different.  They were promised that in Obama, but more often than not were rewarded with just more of the same.  And now, along comes another just like them both that will keep rolling things down the hill, expanding the power of the federal government and limiting the rights of the people they are supposed to be serving.

It is also why 80% of the people in the US are willing to look at a viable change to the current Status Quo and vote for a 3rd party candidate, one that isn’t beholden to entrenched powers that are only after the accumulation of power into one place to be easily wielded.

It explains why Gary Johnson at this point, before any real news support or inclusion into the debates, is polling higher than any other 3rd party candidate in the past 20 years.

Even if you are a supporter of the Democrat or Republican party, admit to yourself that neither candidate is adequately representing your views or needs.  They don’t feel they have to, they just have to make you dislike the other guy and you’ll ‘forgive them’.  The only way to actually get them back on track is to put a scare into them.  Demanding that a viable 3rd party candidate be included in the debates and allowed to be brought into the discussion is the only way they will be forced back to their base and listening to you again.

Support Gary Johnson’s inclusion into the race, you don’t have to support him or say you support him, just that he should be included.  After all, choice is good, right?

Possible Liberty Comeback

It’s been decades since some good news from the Supreme Court concerning individual liberty has come our way, up to and including the despicable Kelo v. New London decision in 2005.  But since them, as if to say they were sorry, this court has actually been looking out for us more and more.  Between DC v. Heller and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, two huge landmark cases that reaffirmed individual rights to the 1st and 2nd amendments, many liberty minded people were cautiously optimistic since they were limited to two specific amendments and both were 5-4 decisions.  But now a unanimous decision in a small strange case, Bond v. United States, opens up a whole new world to the individual citizens of the United States, one that had been wrongly closed to us.

As I stated, this case is strange.  A woman found that a close friend of hers was pregnant with her husband’s child and she started stalking and harming her by placing caustic substances on objects she might touch.  Not something I think anyone would agree with at all.  However, one of the charges against her was being in possession of a caustic substance, a federal statute.  Bond had petitioned the court that the statute was a violation of a state’s sovereignty, exceeding the federal government’s limits of the 10th amendment.  The government argued that she was not allowed to because as an individual she lacked ‘standing’.  She could assert that the statute was not an enumerated power of the federal government, but she could not assert that the statute was a violation of the state she lives in’s sovereignty.

For years, the argument has been made that the amendment, by saying ‘the people’, meant the people as a whole.  And therefore only a state, representing the people, could bring action against the federal government for violating the 10th amendment.  And because of the political dealing that has been going on for the past several decades this rarely happened, allowing the federal government to grow and grow in power in ways the founding fathers never wanted to happen.  It was why the 10th amendment was put into place in the first place.

When writing our new constitution, there were two schools of thought.  One was that we needed to ensure some of the rights that Americans were to enjoy were written down and to never, ever be touched.  The other was that was not necessary because the constitution was written in a way that would not allow those rights to be violated because it was a unique document at the time (and since) since it did not establish what rights the people had, but what limits the federal government could operate in.  If a power wasn’t in the constitution specifically, the federal government could not act.  Further, there was fear that if any of our rights were listed in the document, someone may someday make the (wrong) argument that those rights were the ONLY rights that citizens had.

The two sides debated this for some time when finally James Madison came across a compromise.  He offered the 9th and 10th amendments to the constitution. 

I find, from looking into the amendments proposed by the State conventions, that several are particularly anxious that it should be declared in the Constitution, that the powers not therein delegated should be reserved to the several States. Perhaps words which may define this more precisely than the whole of the instrument now does, may be considered as superfluous. I admit they may be deemed unnecessary: but there can be no harm in making such a declaration, if gentlemen will allow that the fact is as stated. I am sure I understand it so, and do therefore propose it.

The 9th states that "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."  This clearly states that just because a right might not be listed in the document doesn’t mean that the people lose those rights. 

The 10th amendment states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."  This clearly states that unless a power is given to the federal government by the constitution (either as originally written or through amendments) then the federal government is in violation of the constitution of it attempts to assume that power.

Unfortunately, most of this is lost on today’s society.

The decision is short and to the point, but has quotes that makes a person who is actually concerned about liberty proud.  Especially in considering that this was a <strong>unanimous</strong> decision.

Federalism has more than one dynamic.  In allocating powers between the States and National Government, federalism " ‘secures to citizens the liberties  that derive from the diffusion of sovereign power,’ " New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 181.  It enables States to enact positive law in response to the initiative of those who seek a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times, and it protects the liberty of all persons within a State by ensuring that law enacted in excess of delegated governmental power cannot direct or  control their actions.  See Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U. S. 452, 458.  Federalism’s limitations are not therefore  a matter of rights belonging only to the States.  In a proper case, a litigant may challenge a law as enacted in contravention of federalism, just as injured individuals may challenge actions that transgress,  e.g., separation-of-powers limitations, see, e.g., INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919.  The claim need not depend on the  vicarious assertion of a State’s constitutional interests, even if those interests are also implicated.

and

The Government errs in contending that Bond should be permitted to assert only that Congress could not enact the challenged statute under its enumerated powers but that standing should be denied if she argues that the statute interferes with state sovereignty. Here, Bond asserts that the public policy of the Pennsylvania, enacted in its capacity as sovereign, has been displaced by that of the National Government.  The law to which she is subject, the prosecution she seeks to counter, and the punishment she must face might not have come about had the matter been left for Pennsylvania to decide.  There is no support for the Government’s proposed distinction between different federalism arguments for purposes of prudential standing rules. The principles of  limited  national powers and state sovereignty are intertwined.  Impermissible interference with state sovereignty is not within the National Government’s enumerated powers, and action exceeding the National Government’s enumerated powers undermines the States’ sovereign interests.  Individuals seeking to challenge such measures are subject to Article III and prudential standing rules applicable to  all  litigants and claims, but here, where the litigant is a party to an otherwise justiciable case or controversy, she is not forbidden to object that her injury results from disregard of the federal structure of the Government.

I’m not sure how many people see the importance of this decision.  No longer does an individual have to rely upon a state to stand up to the federal government for 10th amendment violations.

For instance, because of this decision new cases are being brought against the NLRB’s decision to ban secret ballots for union elections (as an administrative function though no law has been passed to allow it), the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (although mostly unnecessary now that the court will be hearing some cases on this soon) and against the recent war on medicinal Marijuana that the Obama administration has been waging in California and other states.  All of these cases would have been thrown out due to lack of standing because there were directed from the federal government to the states.

Again, reality may come crashing down (indeed, the onerous rights violations in the National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2012) are concerning to say the least) but for a short period of time a faint glimmer of hope can be seen.

Missing the Point

Over a month ago groups of people got together to protest Wall Street. The OWS protestors understand that something is wrong. Unfortunately, in their anger they took their message to the wrong people. And as the government started cracking down on their protests, they still seemed to miss the point of where their grievances should be directed, still looking to the very people who were using force against them to solve the problems that they created. But even worse, the protesters fail to comprehend that they are no different than the people they are angry at.

An odd trend has been occurring the past few decades and as a result the current generation has forgotten what separates government for any other grouping of people. The fact that government is the only entity that legally force someone to its will. That is what a law is, the legal authorization of force against a person. Instead, people seem to think that government is a benevolent collection of society’s will, a suggestion of how we should all live, as it were. And even when this is obviously presented to the people who are calling for government to enact their solutions in the most demonstrable displays, they still seem to oblivious to that fact.

The OWS crowd are doing exactly what the businesses they are protesting have done, attempted to gain control of the government to make laws that others should be forced to live under. To them, it isn’t that the government has obtained the power that it has over the people of the United States, their issue is that the wrong people are in charge. Our forefathers knew better, they understood that the only way to prevent the abuses of government was to limit it to only what was necessary of it, not a way to solve every problem that presented itself. That understanding has unfortunately been lost on the people of today so much that in the face of that power being used against them, they are bewildered.

Worse, they have directed their ire at the notion of free market capitalism as the best way to ensure freedom in a society. By allowing the people to be the ones to make the decision on how they live, what they buy, where they decide to spend the results of their hard labor we have a society that has produced the greatest freedoms in the history of society. At least, until recently.

Today, however, in an effort to solve problems that government can’t solve (being hungry, being poor, having good health, having a good education, taking care of our fellow man, being free from fear, even death) many have been willing to give up our freedoms to try to eliminate the things they should be looking at themselves to correct in their own lives.

Business isn’t the problem. Even the most obnoxious company in the world cannot make a single person do anything. At least, not without government. A great example is the recent revelation of mass abuse of chickens at Sparboe Farms. When it was discovered what was happening, businesses cut ties with the distributor because they knew that their customers would not want them to continue providing eggs from them. McDonalds, Target, SuperValu and Wal-Mart all dropped the egg distributor immediately. Sparboe is now paying the price for allowing this to occur at some of their farms and other distributors will take notice. This is how to change a company, the laws many thought were in place to prevent such a thing from happening weren’t there, and simply because a law is in place doesn’t ensure that such a thing won’t happen.

Right now banks are seen as ‘the enemy’ because they received bailouts from Washington. Only, that’s not really what the issue is for many OWS protestors. It isn’t that they got bailouts, its that they want bailouts too. This is evident since when the bailouts were first suggested in 2008, many Libertarians and some Republicans said no, but the business backed Democrats and Republicans forged ahead with it anyway. Now those same OWS protestors are supporting the very politicians that called for the bailouts in the first place. They aren’t upset with the power that the government has to take money from the hard working people of the country and give it to others who didn’t earn those funds, they are only upset with who they went to.

The reality is that if our economy is going to be great again, it has to be free to be so. Business is going to try to make a profit, so they are going to continue to make things and sell things and as a result provide people jobs. When we make it easier to do so, not harder, the economy will respond. Until then, we are going to see modest increases as we have seen for years under the control of this increasingly authoritarian government we have allowed to spring up in the place of what our founding fathers intended. Indeed, over the past several administrations we have seen more regulations attempting to control every aspect of business that Canada has moved ahead of the US as a more free market, and as a result have withstood the economic issues much better than we have.

And the OWS protestors are protesting against the very people who are trying to do make their lives better because they see them as the enemy. Not in providing a better existence for everyone, but because business has done a better job of getting control of the massive power that the government has than they have. Again, it’s not that the power exists, only who wields it that they have a problem with.

Crony Capitalism is a bad thing. But the answer is not to end capitalism, it is not to tighten even more control of capitalism, the answer is to stop trying to direct the economy in a way that government can never be effective at and allowing the market to do what it does, provide freedom and prosperity to as many people as possible. Yes, there are many businesses that use government as a tool to ensure their success instead of the market, and this practice should be stopped. But looking at the people who are at fault, the ones with the power, is where we should be looking. Not with the minority of businesses that can only exist and operate at a profit with the assistance of government.

The only good thing that I can see coming out of the terrible crackdown on the protestors by the government is that they might finally have their eyes opened to where the real problem lies. Unfortunately, too many people are being led by the populism of those with desires to control their fellow man, not really help them. At it is this that will again deter them from finally understanding the real point they should be seeing.

The Force Behind the Law

There has been discussion lately about what the government should be doing, can do and is constitutionally allowed to do. But underneath those discussions we need to understand what makes government different from other organizations. Private organizations like the Red Cross, the NAACP, MADD, the Salvation Army, Angie’s List and the ACLU can all perform functions the citizens of a regional area need. Most things the government can do can be performed by similar privately ran organizations, so what is it that the government can do that these organizations can’t? Simply put, the government is the only body that we have legally given the power of force over its citizens.

That’s it. By force the government can enforce its laws. If the laws aren’t followed, we have given this single body the power to remove us from society and place us into custody at gunpoint if necessary. Yes, if we take the natural progression of resistance to the government, that is the end result.

Let’s look at a natural progression. Let’s say you are guilty of one of the laws that the government has been entrusted to enforce. You have decided, for your own personal reason, to not carry automobile insurance. As this is illegal in most states, you are breaking the law. Now you get pulled over and given a ticket for this. You ignore it. Soon a warrant is issues for your arrest. When the warrant is served, you resist arrest. The police will, rightfully so, use force to arrest you and take you into custody. And they would be legal in performing this action.

No other organization or agency has this power. If you pledge money to MADD and then don’t give them that money, you will not be made to by force, unless the government gets involved to put enforcement of a contract into action. No one from MADD will visit you with contingent of gun-toting enforcers to make you give over the pledged funds.

It is precisely this power that we have given to the government that requires that we limit what the government can do. Every time we ask the government to enforce a law, we are asking them to use the threat of force, possibly death, to ensure that the law is followed. Every program that requires taxes to fund is asking the government to take the earned wealth, by force, from one individual and giving it to the program.

The writers of the US Constitution understood this. They knew it all too well, having lived under a government previously that used that power to limit the freedom of it’s citizens as it suited the needs of the government. So, in writing the Constitution they put hard limits in it, most notably in the bill of rights, capped with the 9th and 10th amendments. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” and “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

In other words, our ruling document is not a listing of rights that we are given by government, but a listing of limits that are placed upon the government.  If something is not enumerated within the Constitution as a power of the government, it simply does not have that power.

Yet, all too often, in trying to get the notions we want enacted as laws we ignore this fact. We imagine that there is some wording or clause in the constitution that allows us to use it for our desires, while at the same time imagining that those desires we oppose are not allowed to use those same clauses. The reality is that we have so far pushed the line of what the federal government was designed to do, without properly amending the constitution to allow for these new desires, that most people aren’t even aware that there are some things that the federal government just isn’t allowed to do.  Thomas Jefferson warned about this when he wrote:

"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please… Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect."

"I hope our courts will never countenance the sweeping pretensions which have been set up under the words ‘general defence and public welfare.’ These words only express the motives which induced the Convention to give to the ordinary legislature certain specified powers which they enumerate, and which they thought might be trusted to the ordinary legislature, and not to give them the unspecified also; or why any specification? They could not be so awkward in language as to mean, as we say, ‘all and some.’ And should this construction prevail, all limits to the federal government are done away."

When an injustice or problem comes before us we instinctively want something to be done to fix it. If someone is down on their luck or a person is being unfairly victimized based on something they have no control over, we want to see the little guy ‘win’ and beat the system that is causing their pain. So many times we say to ourselves, ‘There Ought To Be A Law’ to prevent this from happening again! But is making another law really the best way to handle these events?

There are many times where there are other ways to resolve issues that do not involve bringing in the government and their enforcement of laws that are made. For example in dealing with the less fortunate, should we be involving the federal government into such issues or should the community, each individual deciding for themselves how best to help, or even if help is warranted in each case, get involved and resolved the problems as they occur without creating a bureaucracy that invariably leaves some who are deserving out in the cold while rewarding those who know how to ‘grease the system’?

In many cases the laws create new problems that need to be addressed by, yes, another law. We want a law to stop people from committing prostitution, but in effect we push the behavior underground, preventing the community from adequately dealing with the issue while involving the police state into the personal lives of two consenting adults. A similar issue with abortion, gambling and the use of recreational drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. We ignore the history of prohibition in regards to alcohol many decades ago and recreate the same situation in an unrealistic War on Drugs that has had little effect on the use of drugs while creating an underground mob culture, criminals out of people who need help and the filing of our jails with people who’s only offense is the smoking of a plant that grows naturally in the wild.

So the situation is now that every perceived ill should be handled by the government. By using their ability to force people to follow whatever law is enacted they can force people to solve these perceived ills. But by doing so things that could be handed without that threat of force behind it, instead done through charity and good feelings are now accomplished through force and lack of freedom. More funds are required to be taken, by force, from the citizens instead of offered up by the citizens through charitable means. But worse than that, because we are forced by fund these endeavors we no longer feel the need to provide charity. “We gave already” is the view of many, because they are forced to give from their paychecks in taxation they feel less motivated to give to charitable organizations.

This permeates. We no longer know or care who are neighbors are or what their needs are. There’s a governmental program to take care of them, “I can live my life knowing that I’m doing my part without actually ‘getting dirty’.” Not exactly the type of attitude that helped make this society great. It’s also a trend that I am afraid may be too far entrenched to reverse.

Of course, I am not advocating anarchy. Many will say, wrongly, that anyone suggesting a reduction of the influence of government in our lives is just trying to bring anarchy to our society. There are times when laws and government are definitely needed. The protection of an individual’s rights as prescribed by the constitution being the highest priority, the regulation of interstate trade and commerce, protection of the country from outside forces, etc. But when confronted with an issue that needs to be corrected, we should be asking first what we can do to resolve these problems ourselves without involving the institutionalization of rigid laws.

Those Crazy Libertarians

I hear it a lot, being a Libertarian running for office, those Libertarians and their ‘crazy’ ideas.  Letting people choose to live their lives as they see fit, not as the government forces you to?  How would we all survive?  How would that work?  Isn’t that something that only works in small widespread farm communities?

When debating people, I make no bones about being a Libertarian.  “Oh,” I hear, “you are an anarchist”.  Not sure where that one comes from, mostly made up by people who just can’t grasp the thought of people being able to decide on things for themselves.  “You just want the old and poor to be left alone”.  Apparently, without government assistance, which means taking money from one group of people, by force, and giving that money to another, we as humane individuals would never help out people in need.  “Libertarianism was a nice idea when we were an agriculture society but it doesn’t work in large urban areas”.  No, that is when it is needed most, if there is no one around you telling you want to do, you don’t need a form of government that protects you from no one.  And my favorite “you’re just selfish!”  Yeah, that’s me, the selfish one who wants to give people more power over their own lives.

For those that read those quotes and don’t see immediately what is wrong with them, let’s start by enlightening you about what Libertarianism is and what it isn’t.

The Libertarian Philosophy is this: “People should be free to live their lives as they choose as long as they do not directly prevent others from the same”.  Oooo, radical idea!

That does not mean that Libertarians are for no government.

To infer that means that you read only the first half of that statement and skipped the second.  Yes, there are a group of people who are better labeled as Anarcho-Capitalists who are for totally free markets with no regulation who have given themselves the title of Libertarian, but they are wrong and don’t ultimately get the point of that statement. 

In relation to the markets, let’s take a closer look.  If two people enter into a contract, that contract is a legally binding document.  What does that mean?  It means that if one side or the other attempts to violate that contract, they are in violation of the law.  Meaning government.  That is governmental regulation.  With NO governmental regulation, contract law is meaningless, contracts are meaningless and no one will be held accountable for anything in them.

Obviously, most people are not for that, including Libertarians.  In fact, that is directly applicable to the second part of the basic Libertarian principle.  Government’s place is in regulating the interactions between individuals.  If two people agree to the terms of a contract, the government is there to ensure that the contract is to be followed as agreed.  It is also there to ensure that there is no fraud taking place when the contract was agreed to or afterwards.  But, it is not there to determine if someone made a bad decision or unwisely agreed to something that someone else may think was not in their best interests.  That is up to the individual signing the contract to decide. 

Government should also be involved to ensure that all markets are free.  Monopolies prevent this free market from working.  Government should therefore be there to make sure that no one person or company has a complete monopoly over any one area of the markets.  Unfortunately, most monopolies that exist today do so not just with the acquiescence of government, but with their support.  They could not exist as monopolies without government getting involved.  This usually plays out with licensing of a business, a way for current business owners to ensure that no new entrants into a market are allowed to compete for the part of the market that they have already acquired.

Government should also not be for picking winners and losers.  Trying to punish a company because it is doing well or those who are running the company have different politics than the current administrations should be forbidden.  Unfortunately, today, this happens far too frequently and is a current way that the two major parties play individuals against each other for their votes.

Beyond markets, the government should be ensuring that people are not infringing upon other’s rights to live their lives as they choose.  We should not be telling people that they cannot buy beer on a Sunday, or sign a contract on Sunday, or buy a pack of cigarettes or whatever drug of choice they choose, it should be left to the individual to decide.  However, if someone were to harm another while taking those drugs of choice, they should be arrested and punished for that behavior.  If you want to drink a fifth of scotch at home, the government should not tell you you can’t, but the minute you get behind the wheel of a car and endanger the rest of us…  Sorry, your right to make your own choices ends at that point.

Who do we choose to love?  Who do we choose to spend our time with?  I don’t see how that is any business of any government agency.  What goes on between two consenting adults is between them, not anyone else who might have a large group of people who think it is ‘icky’.  That’s no one’s business but their own.

Libertarianism is not about leaving the poor and old to fend for themselves and it is certainly not about selfishness

Quite the contrary, we should be helping out our fellow man who is in need.  But we should decide when and where that help comes from.  If a single mother of four is working hard to put her children through school and take care of them has a rough month, perhaps she chooses not to help that month.  Under our current system, she has no way of doing that.  The government gets its cut before she has any say in the matter.  So more often than I feel comfortable with, that person ends up in worse shape and eventually needs help that they wouldn’t have needed had they been able to make that choice for themselves.

Here is a current example of our welfare system in the United States.  Three men are eating lunch on a park bench.  A homeless man comes up and asks for some money to buy some food.  The first two men say sure and each get five dollars out to give to him.  They then look to the third one who says he can’t do it right now.  What do the two men do?  They hold him down and take the money from him and then give the fifteen dollars to the homeless man.  That third man, who was going to take that money home to help feed his children is left to fend for himself now.  Now that is compassion.  That is selfish.  The selfishness that you are unwilling to help another if you know that others aren’t helping him.  That is what our welfare system is about, making sure that you are giving your money to help the poor and elderly as long as you know that everyone else is too.

Libertarianism is about the here and now more than ever before

I have never understood this argument.  That in a rural society, Libertarianism is ok, but in a city environment, well, it’s just not workable.  Really?  When do you need protection to make your own choices and have the government work out the disputes between you and your neighbors than in a large urban city?  If I am being drunk and obnoxious at home on a large farm with 200 acres, who cares?  If I drive my car drunk around my property, who cares?  But if I am being drunk and obnoxious or driving drunk in a city with a large population?  Other’s rights are being violated.  Nothing in Libertarianism says that you have to put up with that situation, it is and infringement upon you. 

How have the current parties done?

So, people think that ensuring that individuals are free and enjoying their liberties is ‘crazy’ and continue to elect the same two parties to office thinking that it is doing any good.  Let’s take a look at what they have done to our country.

Education

In 1979 the Department of Education was formed.  It as only to have a small budget of 14.5 billion and employ less than 100 people.  Today, it is well over 32 billion and employs over 5000 people, 90 percent who were deemed ‘nonessential’ during a recent government shutdown.  The education rate has increased three times as fast as other non-defense discretionary programs, 30% vs 8%.  We have gone from spending 3000 per pupil to 6000 (adjusted for inflation).  What have we gotten? 

“The average reading and math scores for 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the nation’s benchmark for student achievement, are no better today than they were in 1971; SAT verbal scores show a decline (from 530 in 1972 to 504 today); and SAT math scores have been essentially flat (from 509 in 1972 to 515 today). U.S. graduation rates were 78 percent in 1972 and are 74 percent today; and U.S. 15-year-olds score below the international average on science and math literacy when compared with 30 OECD countries—American kids rank behind students from Poland, Hungary, and France to name a few.” — http://reason.com/archives/2009/01/29/stimulus-wont-change-the-educa

So, we have created a bureaucracy that is eating itself, injecting politics further into our school system and creating students that are worse off than they were before we got involved.  And the answer that we hear from Washington?  More spending, more control, more of the same.

And they call Libertarians crazy.

Governmental Debt

When you run out of money at the end of the month, what do you do?  Cut spending?  More often than not.  Increase your income?  Some people get second jobs or other income for that.  Do you just keep spending and borrowing more?  More citizens are doing that and finding out that it doesn’t work well in the long run.  Unfortunately, our government hasn’t learned that lesson yet…

Let’s look at what has happened to our debt since 1940, adjusted for inflation.  A good chart to have open when looking at this is here: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JTd2KOgmF9A/ShNh796JkEI/AAAAAAAAAHs/C7rXluniU9A/s1600-h/PublicDebtPurple.gif.

The US experienced high growth in the 50s and 60s, yet our debt remained largely unchanged, when compared with inflation.  However… starting in the 1970s and skyrocketing since, it has ballooned up to 7 Trillion dollars.  But, that’s not the worse part.  You see, what the politicians won’t tell you is the dirty little secret that those numbers are just PUBLIC debt.  That is debt that the government owes to the public or other entities outside of the government.  That’s not our total debt.  Our total debt, as of today, when including money that the government has borrowed from itself (largely in the shape of the Social Security Trust Fund and other pension plans) is …

$13,667.624,992,210.96.

Yes, that is over 13 TRILLION dollars that our government must pay back.  This number can be tracked for a current snapshot or over time by using the US Treasury’s Debt to the Penny, located at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np.  Don’t just take my word for it, go look it up yourself.

So, why don’t we hear that number?  Why only the 7 Trillion?  Well, other than the obvious “it sounds better”, the short answer is that the government doesn’t seem to want anyone to know that it has been raiding our Social Security trust fund for decades.  Even Bill Clinton who is touted with ‘running a surplus’ is hiding those numbers.  At no time during the Clinton administration did our national debt decrease.  Our PUBLIC deficit did go down a year or two, but only by a little and only on the public side of things, our Intragovernmental Holdings still increased more than the Public debt decreased.

The people who are in power now are wanting you to give them the power to spend more money, on top of all of the money they already owe…  Does that sound like a sound plan to you?  Do you think that we can continue to spend money at this rate, or higher if Washington had its way, and not eventually have to pay up?  I can only say I am glad they are not in charge of my finances…

And they call Libertarians crazy.

Prison Population

Every year since 1972 our prison population has increased, until this last year.  There are currently over 2 million people behind bars in the US, or better put, one out of every 133 of us.  We have 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prison population.  We incarcerate more than any other country, including China.  And this year the prison population went down, not because there were less crimes, but because of budget constraints more prisoners were let go before finishing their sentences.  And fastest growing segment of that population?  Non-violent, first time offenders of drug laws.  Our War On Drugs has failed miserably and we continue to take a hard stand against an activity that less than 100 years ago would have taken an amendment to the US Constitution to enforce. 

The funny thing is that taking drugs is not illegal.  I cannot be illegal according to the Supreme Court.  Instead, they make ‘possession’ of the drug illegal.  It’s an interesting work around that has resulted in the increase of drug use, the cost to the taxpayers in the billions and the incarceration rates in the US to skyrocket.  Worse, because of the federal laws, the government can’t regulate the drugs like they can with cigarettes and alcohol.  And it can’t be taxed either.  Individuals with problems are less likely to get help for fear of being arrested, funding to help those people is not collected and we put non-violent drug users in the same prisons as violent convicts, an atmosphere that is more likely to turn them to a further life of crime than they would have if they were left alone.

And they call Libertarians crazy.

Other things you can’t do

We are just touching the surface here and I could (and may) write a book about all of this, but let’s speed things up with a short list of some of the things you can’t do in Indiana because of the actions of our two parties, other states are probably as messed up as we are:

  • Properly choose the school you send your children to (private or public) unless you are rich
  • Walk onto a plane with a bottle of water (federal law)
  • Drive your car without a seat belt on
  • Buy alcohol on Sunday
  • Sign a contract on Sunday (no car sales on Sunday as a result)
  • Play poker online (federal law)
  • Play poker at a table, with real cards, unless on a body of water and approved by the state
  • Possess Marijuana (federal and state law)
  • Carry drinks into a restaurant or bar
  • Sell milk or soft drinks at a liquor store

Want to continue supporting the two major parties?

So, you’ve heard that the Libertarians are a crazy bunch, that their ideals are outdated or only work in a ‘utopia’.  All I ask is that you take a look back at the way the Democrats and Republicans have run this state and this country and ask yourself.

Who are the crazy ones?  The Libertarians who want to give us more control over our individual lives as long as we don’t violate the rights of others.  Or the Republicans and Democrats who have given us over half of a century of declining education, declining standards of living, increased spending, increased debt and continually pass more and more laws that tell you how to live your life?

Or are the crazy people the ones that keep sending the same people back to the state house and Washington thinking that ‘THIS TIME’ things will be different.  Isn’t that like taking the milk out of the refrigerator and tasting that it is bad and then putting it back in thinking that tomorrow it will be good again?

My recommendation is to throw out your preconceived notions about what others have told you about Libertarian thought and the Libertarian Party and take a closer look at what we are really saying, what we really stand for.  Don’t let the people who have run this country into the ground make up your mind for you.  You can go to www.lp.org and see for yourself what the crazy Libertarians are talking about.

Massaging the Numbers

The worst part about modern politics is the lengths that politicians will go through just to convince those unwilling to use logic and facts that they are telling the truth.  And further, when they attempt to use fallacies to bolster these claims even though a little fact checking will counter them pretty quickly.  But beyond that, when the organizations we depend upon to do this legwork for us are just either too lazy or too self-interested to give it a good honest try.

And so it goes with the constant assertion we hear that health care reform is going to ‘lower our national deficit’.  Most people with common sense will immediately question this claim, because history has shown us that this just is never the case with the government managing something.  Government is politics and when politics get involved, it always costs more money. 

However, when you have an administration that has no scruples and is willing to lie directly to the American people as this one has done on several occasions, and who have the backing of the media in this endeavor, it will be years before people finally realize what was done to them and by then, of course, it will be too late. 

But, for those who do have common sense but are baffled as to how the administration can keep saying that they are going to cut the deficit by 1 trillion dollars while paying for 15 million new people’s healthcare (and eventually another 185 million), let’s go through just how they have gone about this so that hopefully you will be able to identify the tactics in the future.

Now to begin with, where does the president get this figure?  He is taking it from the Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO is a nonpartisan group that is responsible for evaluating legislation and then determining the eventual economic impact of that legislation.  That sounds great, except that the CBO is still a government agency and, more importantly, must abide by specific rules while evaluating legislation.  It is knowing and working within these rules that the administration has acted dishonestly in order to push through legislation that they know will not do what they claim.

One of the areas that congress was told would not lead to deficit neutrality was what has been called the ‘doc fix’ by those in the know.  This is a permanent change to the way doctors are reimbursed for Medicare claims.  This was originally in the legislation but was removed when the CBO warned that, when combined with the rest of the healthcare package, it “would increase the budget deficit in 2019 by $23 billion relative to current law, an increment that would grow in subsequent years.”  So, what was the answer?  The democrats removed the section from the legislation and then passed it on its own.  So, because this is no longer in the legislation, it is not evaluated, even though we already know that once this goes into effect it will result in the same outcome, increasing the deficit.  The CBO has since warned about this but because of their rules they are not allowed to include this information in evaluating the actual healthcare bill.

As you can see, manipulating the CBO, once you know the rules, are easy games that the politicians play.  Because they are not interested in the final outcome matching what they say, they are interested in increasing power to their political party and passing their agenda at all costs.  Honesty is just not a priority, just as liberty and freedom are words they read in a speech while trying to attain the power they work towards.

Of course, that was not the only example, or even the worst.  Another rule is that the CBO must take congress at its word about future, unspecified, cuts in spending.  The legislation mentions that spending will be cut but doesn’t mention how or where, but because it will be cut the CBO has to accept that in its evaluation.  And did they promise some cuts!  Lots and lots of cuts, around $300 Billion, which we all know will NEVER EVER HAPPEN.  The CBO, to their credit, has issues supplemental warnings about this and what would happen if those cuts don’t take place as promised, but those don’t make it into the president’s speeches for some reason.

But wait, there’s more!  In addition to having to evaluation only the specific piece of legislation and having to accept as fact future unspecified budget cuts promised, the CBO can only evaluate the effects of legislation 10 years out from the date of passage.  This is why, in the legislation, it starts collecting for the programs years before any spending takes place and then kicks in to high gear on the spending phase just as that buffer starts to get depleted.  What happens when that clock catches up is beyond the limits of what the CBO can, by their own rules, evaluate.

Of course, this is all trivial considering the history of what government programs end up really costing as opposed to what they are proposed to cost.  Looking at the promised costs of Social Security, Medicare, the Iraq War, just to name a few and comparing them to what the true eventual costs were can leave someone scratching their heads. 

And none of this has anything to do with the political ramifications of what is being discussed.  For example, the blatant unconstitutionality of requiring every single American to be covered under a health insurance plan?  Or the fact that we already have the US government paying for over 50% of our health care with the government spending $1,000 more, per person, for health care than the Canadians do, for example.  Or even the fact that insulating individuals even MORE from the results of their own actions and needs with insurance costs based not on their lifestyles but on how much they make is ensuring that we will become less and less healthy without further governmental action into our lives to tell us how to eat, sleep, drink and live…

And to be honest, that is where I think this is really headed.  Once we buy in that we are all costing each other (and the government) money by how we live, the government will determine that it has an authority to ensure that those costs are mitigated by passing laws restricting how we choose to live our lives.

Definitely NOT a view of freedom and liberty that millions have sacrificed their lives over the years for us to enjoy.

More on My Watchblog Departure

Ok, so I was obviously upset last week when I had five years of my life wiped away in an instant for questioning the editor of Watchblog.  I was going to write a detailed post concerning the events surrounding what happened then, but while it was cathartic, I felt it came from a much darker place than I really wanted to put out for everyone to read.  Instead, I decided to take a week away and consider what had transpired and come back with a much calmer and more even-handed explanation of what led to this situation.

First, I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to write for Watchblog five and a half years ago, I had been doing political writing on and off before then but was just getting into making it a serious endeavor and the people at Watchblog who I agreed and disagreed with over the years made me a better writer than I ever could have been without them.  This is the one positive I can take away from the experience.

Over the past five years there have been many things with Watchblog that I was saddened to see happen to a place that I really believed in.  Writers being dismissed because they disagreed with the Managing Editor has not been an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately.  One writer was removed because he wrote an article that did not link back to another article.  This wasn’t a requirement when I was hired and indeed, I have since seen other writers doing the same thing, including the Managing Editor himself.  Other times it appears that people are blocked access because of who they disagree with rather than how they disagree.  But since none of this is made public, instead we are supposed to accept that the Managing Editor is without flaw, we must continue on and accept the situation as best we can.  Further, asking for such basic things that other blogs have now like ‘share with facebook’ or ‘digg’, etc are just not available on the site, the website’s technology has not changed in 6 years since it was originally put in place, it is even running on a very outdated version of Movable Type.  This, however, is more of the fault of the lack of interest in the site by the owner, Cameron Barrett, than the Managing Editor.

Even worse, the Managing Editor started his own copy-cat blog of Watchblog (politwatch.org) and invited many of the current writers of Watchblog to start writing for his site.  I’m sorry, but this was one of the lowest things I had seen anyone do in a long time, without even having the guts to cut ties with his current responsibilities to Watchblog but to then use his access to the email addresses and contact information for the current cadre of writers to invite them to a new site you are opening while still managing the existing one?  The fact that it is a complete failure doesn’t lesson the ethical embarrassment of what was done.  I of course declined his invitation.

Unfortunately, two weeks ago I found something that struck me to the bone even worse.  In the comments section of an article, I had engaged the Managing Editor about deficits and surpluses, etc.  In one comment he mentioned that I should be using Fiscal Year numbers, not actual year numbers, to be accurate.  I pointed out to him that if he had read the link I had presented, he would have seen that I had done just that.  Then, in his next comment, he mentioned that I should be using actual year numbers, not Fiscal Year numbers.  I was kind of dumbfounded, especially when I had just answered an comment from him stating the exact opposite.  When I went back to find the original comment he had made, I was shocked to find that the comment was no longer there!  It had been edited (or as David pointed out later, deleted and a new comment put in his place, as if that makes a difference) to not say what he had said at all!  Not that a typo had been corrected, which is really the only reason anyone should be editing anything they have previously written.  Or even grammar.  He didn’t even change it to say he really meant actual year instead of Fiscal Year, he just took that portion of the comment completely out.

I’m sorry, but this is inexcusable, not just as a writer, but such an abuse of power from an Editor, especially the Managing Editor!  The response?  Nothing.  No admission of guilt, no apology, no mention of it at all.  It just wasn’t to be talked about.  This would have cost any other writer the privilege of writing there, but the Managing Editor is able to just continue on as if it meant nothing.

So naturally, my disappointment with the way the site was being ran fell to a level that left me wondering why I was even still there.

However, the problem with leaving Watchblog is that your articles that you’ve written are lost forever.  There is no way to allow for a writer’s posts to remain but just cut them access.  Which is insane.  And very sad in the fact that many writers have been removed to have their posts removed allowing for no real history of the place.  I would have recommended changing my password and leaving the articles in place, but apparently this option has never crossed the minds of the Managing Editor, or else he wants to retain that threat to use over the heads of the writers who cross him.

Finally, last week in a comments conversation, much like several I have had over the years with David, he wrote a long reply to one of my comments saying things like calling my views ‘Bullcrap’, that I should ‘Get over it’, restating things as fact that I had refuted several times, and generally being very terse towards my views.  A couple of minutes later, he posted another comment to say ‘Let’s move this conversation to emails’.  This was done as David Remer, not as Managing Editor, as he had done in the past when warning people that they were about to cross the line.  As I was told later, it was still him and I should have shown him his due respect.  So the lesson is that David is the Managing Editor, do not cross him or disrespect him ever, in any way, or your fate may be the same.

So now we have a long public mean-spirited comment towards me left on the comments section and I was not allowed to respond to it publicly.  After everything that had happened and the lack of respect that had been shown me while writing for Watchblog, including multiple accusations of racism, I was not about to let it go without  making it clear that I did not approve.  So, my response was simply:

You mean, “let me make wild accusations, reclaim things that have already been shown to be false, jump to all kinds of conclusions and leaps of logic of dizzying hights, all in a public venue, but don’t respond to me in public…”?

Nah, I’m good with leaving it as it is.

This is what cost me five years of work and the ability to continue even commenting on anything at Watchblog.  In the emails that followed, I was told that the reason for the request to go to email was because David ‘had a feeling I would end up crossing the line in my replies’ which of course hadn’t happened in our conversations, which were much more heated over the years than this was.  Worse, he then told me that I had ‘proven him right’ by responding as I had, with a personal attack.

Now, you can say what you want about this being a personal attack.  I disagree, it was an observed redefinition of what he had said, a tactic he has used himself over the years.  But, beyond that, to not even accept that his actions of posting such a comment in public towards me and then not wanting me to respond?  To not admit that he was wrong in any way?  I just chose not to take it anymore.  I responded to him in email and let him know of my displeasure.  He responded that since my response was not sufficiently ‘bowing and scraping’ enough, that I was not
showing him any reason to be reinstated.  My response was that I had not asked to be reinstated and would not be asking such a thing since he could not accept for himself that he had done anything wrong. 

I’m sorry, but i can no longer work for this type of management of a weblog.  It is irrational and mean-spirited, accepting more of those that agree with than disagree with David politically and I simply will no longer be treated in such a manner by anyone, even if it does mean that I will no longer be writing at Watchblog.

The unfortunate piece is that I started doing this writing because I wanted to make a difference, to affect and influence the minds of people to think beyond what they are told and look at things in a new way.  I never wanted to ‘brainwash’ anyone, but to kick start the thinking processes in others so that they could come to better informed conclusions themselves.  I am saddened that it appears that no one was ever affected, that my missions was for naught.  I received one email about my leaving, I had sort of expected there to be more.  It just appears that I was not as much of an influence as I had hoped that I would be and has caused me to further evaluate my purpose in doing this writing as opposed to the other things in my life that bring me pleasure and happiness. 

If I decide not to do any more writing, I’ll make sure to post on that before I shut down this blog, but as it is I am not sure how much motivation I have to continue.  That is some soul-searching that I am going to take on and determine over the course of the next few weeks…

Watchblog Writer No More

Yes, I am no longer allowed on Watchblog, it is probably the best decision.  If anyone wants to get in contact with me, please feel free to email me at rhinehold @ rhinehold.org, just remove the spaces.  I will post an article about this later tonight when I have a little more time.

I am also writing at rhinehold.newsvine.com if you want to continue following my articles there and providing me scorn and derision.  Don’t worry, I only take things personal when they are intended that way so feel free. 🙂

I have also been in discussion with the Libertarian Party about officially writing for them, these are exciting times.

Land of the Subsidized

Friday was an important day.  A day when the US crossed a threshold that it is looking less likely to cross back the other way on.  On Friday, January 22, 2010, the United States federal government put into full force of law its 2000th subsidy program.

This number may seem small but in reality, compared to the past, it is disturbingly large.  In the 70’s we were around 1000, this didn’t change much through the Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan years.  But between George Bush the first, Clinton and George Bush the second we managed to push that number up to 1,645.  Over 20 years. 

However, since the Democratic Congress took over from the Republicans, and then a Democratic President was elected, that number has exploded to over 2,000.  Data for this information can be found here.

People are upset about our debt, and they should be.  They are upset about our spending, and they should be.  But I wonder how many know just how many DIFFERENT subsidies that are handed out from the federal government (this does NOT include state or local governments)?

Do we really need this many?  What is the point of them all?  How many are trying to force people to live their lives as the politicians see fit instead of letting people live their lives as they want to?  How many are in response to previous programs that have created greater need but instead of being pulled back just needed some ‘tweaking’ with another program?

How many do you think the people who need them even know about them?  I recall one program put into place a year ago in response to the home mortgage ‘crisis’.  The program was set up to allow homeowners to renegotiate their mortgage.  After months of being available, it turned out <strong>ONE</strong> family had qualified and taken advantage of the program.  More people were going to private companies and renegotiating directly instead.  How much did that program cost us just to exist, staff and finally service a single family?

Who is doing the means testing?  Who is doing the cost/benefit analysis?  Who is performing the oversight while we continue to rack up trillions of dollars in debt that we have increasingly no hope of ever paying back, all the while spending billions on just the negotiations and talks around creating one of the largest new spending programs ever?

President Obama was going to get out his red pen.  I’m sure you all remember the promise.  I am thinking that he must have forgotten where he put it…