Who’s Fault Is It?

 

A very interesting column COMPLETELY NEUTRAL .

Charley Reese’s final column for the Orlando Sentinel… He has been a journalist for 49 years. He is retiring and this is HIS LAST COLUMN.

Be sure to read the Tax List at the end.

This is about as clear and easy to understand as it can be. The article below is completely neutral, neither anti-republican or democrat. Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day. It’s a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000 People
-By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. ( The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House?( John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. ) If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. [The House has passed a budget but the Senate has not approved a budget in over three years. The President’s proposed budgets have gotten almost unanimous rejections in the Senate in that time. ]

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan …

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees… We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it… is up to you.
This might be funny if it weren’t so true.

Be sure to read all the way to the end:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’

When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the heck happened? Can you spell ‘politicians?’
I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times!!!

YOU can help it get there!!!

GO AHEAD. . . BE AN AMERICAN!!!

I received this in my e-mail today.
Thanks to the writer and to the sender.
Mike Vroman.

Tax Cuts for Us, or a new Senate Palace?

     Another article by Katie G. Nelson was published today in the Herald Review. Congratulations to both her and the paper for cutting to what appears to be the heart of the matter again. Please go to their site and read the article here.

     Apparently a rift has developed in the DFL in St. Paul. As a result of the current budget surplus, the House, including many House DFLers, has passed a $500 million tax cut bill, which is strongly supported by DFL Governor Mark Dayton. This bill has been held up in the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL from Cook, even though today, the 19th of March, was the deadline set by the Governor for the bill to be sent to his desk.

     Governor Dayton has indicated his belief that this bill was being delayed intentionally in an attempt by Sen. Bakk to obtain funding for a new Senate office building and a parking ramp, which would cost $90 million. For his part, Sen. Bakk denied this, although he is on record as strongly supporting the new building.

     The Capitol building is undergoing renovations, which will require the Senators to find an alternate location during the process. Currently, there is not enough room for the entire Senate to have offices in the Capitol building itself, and that is part of what is presented as a reason for the new building.

     I may be a little behind the times, but I was always under the impression that the Capitol building’s primary purpose was to house the Legislature, both the House and the Senate, in their entirety. As we are planning to spend $272 million dollars for this renovation, it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that this purpose be fulfilled as a priority.

     Nevertheless, some members of the Senate are of the opinion that we need to spend another $90 million for yet another building so that they can have their very own domicile.

     I see a clear choice here, and an opportunity for us, as taxpayers, to save ourselves millions of dollars. Either we can tell the Senate that they must return to the Capitol building after the renovations, along with the House of Representatives, scrapping their plans for a new office building, or we can let the House have a new building as well, forget about the renovations, and permanently retire the Capitol building. One way or the other, but not both. It is our money that they are freely spending.

     I do not seriously think that any of us want to see the Capitol building go away, so it seems that the House and the Senate should resign themselves to finding a way to utilize our Capitol building for its intended purpose.

     It may well inconvenience the Senators during the renovation, but it is temporary. Where is the fiscal responsibility in using this as an excuse to spend $90 million of our money on new offices? Are they public servants, there to represent us, or are they kings with royal courts deserving of a new palace at our expense?

         Mike Vroman.

Virtue or Slavery?

     In my readings the other day, I found a quote from Thomas Paine which, although he was referring to England, is extremely relevant to us today. “When republican virtue fails, slavery ensues.”

tpaine     So what is republican virtue, and what can we call slavery?

     Let’s take a look at what a republic is first, and then look at the virtues needed to make it work.

     A republic is a form of government in which the decisions are made by representatives elected by the people, and in which the decisions are carried out by executives also elected by the people. The form which we have now is neither the democracy it is usually referred to as, or the republic which it was intended to be. It has been transformed over the years into something in between the two.

     What was intended was a republic in which part of the government was selected by the people while the rest was selected by the states. This changed in the first part of the 20th century with the 17th Amendment which allowed the direct election of senators. Prior to this the House of Representatives “belonged” to the people and the Senate “belonged” to the states. Now both “belong” to the people.

     Unfortunately, “We the People” are not allowed to vote for anyone we wish, or rather we could, but it would be ineffective to vote for someone who is not a sanctioned candidate. In today’s world, one can not even become a viable candidate without the aid of a large amount of wealth, either personal wealth or donated wealth. Since, at the present time, it requires wealth to win elections, what we now have is not a true republic, in which people are represented by their peers, but an oligarchic republic, where the people are represented by the wealthy.

     This is not a condemnation of the wealthy, by any means, as the amount of wealth a person possesses does not indicate that they will be either a poor or a good representative, and in most instances, the greater the wealth, if honestly earned, the greater the likelihood of this person being a capable representative. Unfortunately, the reality that wealth is required to win excludes virtually all potential representatives who are not wealthy, but are nevertheless quite capable.

     So where does our quote “when republican virtue fails, slavery ensues” enter in to this discussion? No matter how much we are alike, we are also different, each of us belonging to different groups, or classes. How can the wealthy properly represent the poor, or the poor the wealthy? How can an urbanite properly represent the rural person? Ask the people of Colorado about this. They recalled two of their representatives for this very reason; these representatives advocated for laws which the rural people did not want. How can a member of any group properly represent another group which they do not fully understand?

     This is the first part of republican virtue. Those elected to office must represent the will and best interest of the people they represent. This must be placed above the representatives’ own personal interest. For this to happen, it stands to reason that this elected representative should be from the same group as the people represented, and should have a significant amount in common with these people. The selected representative should also never fail to view themselves as exactly that, an elected servant of the people, and never as an official having power to influence anything. Simply a servant of the people, with the people holding all of the power.

     This is not what we have today. By way of demonstration, I posed a question in the form of a poll last week, asking people how much influence they had over just their local policies. Far from being scientific, it does reflect the prevailing attitude to be found in the general public. Ten people indicated that they felt as if they had little or no influence over their local government, while only two hinted that they thought that they could have a significant influence. Five times as many people felt dis-empowered by their local government, which is far closer to home than either the state or federal. It seems that this first part of our republican virtue has failed.bfranklin

     The second part of republican virtue belongs to the people themselves, and can best be summarized in a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

     How do we keep a republic? The same way we make a successful garden. With constant care and attention. Were we to plant a garden, then ignore it until harvest time, what we would harvest would be everything except that which we wanted. By way of our inattention, the useful plants which we intended to harvest would have been choked out by all sorts of useless weeds, rendering our gardening intentions useless at best, harmful at worst. It is the same with our republic. Modern elections are akin to short-lived popularity contests, in which the most charismatic individual prevails, after which we all happily return to our everyday activities with seldom a thought given to what the representatives are doing on our behalf. This is what has caused our republic to decline, and our politicians to grow in self appointed power, much as the unattended garden was taken over by weeds.

     To correct this is simple yet difficult. In order for our republic to provide us the freedom which it was intended to provide, we, as voters, must constantly pay attention both to the candidates and the elected representatives, ignoring what they say and noting what they do. The instant that they show a propensity to better themselves at our expense, or to better their friends at the expense of the constituency, they must be replaced.

     We must also be willing to personally spread the news of a capable person who we would like to represent us, and by so doing, use both word of mouth and the 21st century technology we have available to broadcast the existence of a qualified person through social media and other mechanisms, and beginning the process of circumventing the status quo whereby only the wealthy could get enough attention to be elected.

     Failure of these two types of virtue will inevitably lead to a further progression down the path to slavery, where the established politicians gradually continue to increase their own power and disenfranchise the people, until they have acquired so much power that our oligarchic republic devolves the rest of the way to a virtual tyranny, where the government has consolidated so much power, and we have surrendered so much, that it becomes irreversible, and we are forced to comply with their wishes rather than our own.

     It is not too late to reverse this trend, but to do so, we must all choose between the difficult path to virtue and the easy path to slavery.

          Mike Vroman.

Confiscation!

I have been following stories of government confiscations for quite some time now, and have found two stories this week which relate directly to Minnesota.

Before we look at these stories, though, let’s review the highest laws which apply to confiscations, found both in the Minnesota Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

We’ll start with the Minnesota Constitution, Article One, the Bill of Rights.

Sec. 7. Due process; prosecutions; double jeopardy; self-incrimination; bail; habeas corpus.

No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law, and no person shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense, nor be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. All persons before conviction shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless the public safety requires it in case of rebellion or invasion.

Here’s the applicable text in this section, “nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. So what is the due process of law? Again, from Article One:

Sec. 6. Rights of accused in criminal prosecutions.

In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which county or district shall have been previously ascertained by law. In all prosecutions of crimes defined by law as felonies, the accused has the right to a jury of 12 members. In all other criminal prosecutions, the legislature may provide for the number of jurors, provided that a jury have at least six members. The accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor and to have the assistance of counsel in his defense.

First, we all have a right to be tried by a jury of our peers. We can not be found guilty of a crime without this unless we waive our right to a jury trial. We also have a right to confront witnesses and see the evidence brought against us. Further elaboration from Article One:

Sec. 4. Trial by jury.

The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and shall extend to all cases at law without regard to the amount in controversy. A jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases in the manner prescribed by law. The legislature may provide that the agreement of five-sixths of a jury in a civil action or proceeding, after not less than six hours’ deliberation, is a sufficient verdict. The legislature may provide for the number of jurors in a civil action or proceeding, provided that a jury have at least six members.

One last item before we leave the Bill of Rights:

Sec. 10. Unreasonable searches and seizures prohibited.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized.

Here we see that “no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause…..particularly describing…..things to be seized.” Who issues these warrants? The Judge, part of the Judicial Branch. From Article Six, Section Three, of the Minnesota Constitution, we find the text which gives the Judge this authority:

Sec. 3. Jurisdiction of district court.

The district court has original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases and shall have appellate jurisdiction as prescribed by law.

In addition to this, the State Constitution, in Article Three, Section One, prohibits any branch of government from performing the functions of another branch. Hence, it is unconstitutional, as the Constitution is now written, for either the executive or Legislative Branches to perform the designated function of a Judge.

Section 1. Division of powers.

The powers of government shall be divided into three distinct departments: legislative, executive and judicial. No person or persons belonging to or constituting one of these departments shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others except in the instances expressly provided in this constitution.

To put this in the simplest terms possible, the only proper way for a person’s property to be confiscated is either by warrant issued by a Judge, or by a conviction followed by the sentencing of a Judge. Any other forms of confiscation related to criminal accusation are in violation of the Minnesota Constitution. To strengthen this arguments, we can also point out that these sections in the State Constitution mirror Amendments Four and Five of the United States Constitution:

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Now that we have  explored the protections against confiscation which we are supposed to enjoy, let’s move on to the articles in question.

The first is from the Star Tribune. This article describes a proposed law which would require law enforcement to return all property confiscated in drug cases if there is no conviction. Please go to the Star Tribune site and read the whole article for yourself, as I will not go into detail here, except for two points. The first point was made in the original article, stating that confiscations increased 75% between the years 2003 and 2010 in the state, resulting in a $30 million gain in revenue from these forfeitures, although the actual crime rate fell slightly during the same time frame. My second point is, as demonstrated above, that it is exclusively the responsibility of the Judicial Branch, whether by warrant or conviction, to confiscate property as a result of a criminal charge. Not only is it outside of the purview of the Legislative and Executive Branches to do so, they are also expressly forbidden from doing so by the Minnesota Constitution.

Our next article to look at comes from the Pioneer Press. Take a look at this one as well. This article relates of a Bill proposed by Rep. Carly Melin which would make it more difficult for the DNR to confiscate the firearm of a first time offender caught baiting deer. Sure, we can all agree that deer baiting is illegal and gives an increased advantage to the hunter, and I congratulate Rep. Melin for the initial step in the right direction, but there is a Constitutional question here as well. The DNR is a part of the Executive Branch of government, and as such, they have no authority to confiscate property of someone they encounter afield just because they have cause to ask the prosecutor to charge this person with a crime. Yes, it is a reasonable safety precaution for the officer to temporarily relieve the person in question of any weapons, but as soon as this person is released from custody, their property should be immediately returned to them, at no cost, until such time as a Judge, a member of the Judicial Branch, orders otherwise.

Are we prepared to let our State, and our Country, follow the path which so many nations before traveled, allowing the executives, for expedience sake, engage in the confiscation of our property, which is an integral part of our freedom, without so much as a complaint? Will we let our very freedom slip away from us by allowing this sort of activity to take place? Do we not value the fact that we are supposed to be protected from such confiscations until we have had the opportunity to defend ourselves in court, in front of a jury of our peers? Maybe we think that it is not important because it only happens to the “other guy.” That’s what most of those people used to think, too. It’s time to hold our representatives to a higher standard.

Mike Vroman.

Think the Wall Street Bankers Are Bad?

I was just going over documents which were given to me concerning the revenue and expenses of the Itasca Economic and Development Corporation for the year 2011. As we have seen in recent articles, this is a non-profit organization funded largely by tax moneys.

What do they say that they spend their money on? Here is their mission statement:

“Undertake education and research efforts that support and advance the creation and maintenance of quality jobs for those residing in and around Itasca County.”

This sounds like a pretty good idea, at least until we look at some of their financial data.

From the public records we find some figures which would make the Wall Street bankers which we have heard so much about look like amateurs.

In 2011, the total listed revenue for the IEDC was $606,287, again, largely coming from the taxpayers.

The expenses for that same year, however, were $802,200. A loss of $195,913.

In this same year they listed only two employees. This doesn’t sound too bad, until we add up the combined salaries, compensation, benefits, travel expenses, and training costs. Combined, these add up to $250,559. This is 41% of the total revenue. Wall Street bankers would be proud to be able to use 41% of the banking revenue for these items, especially in a year where the organization LOST 32% of the money!

To rub salt in the wound, although the IEDC has helped selected entities, they have had, as we saw in the article “What Has the IEDC Done?” little or no positive effect on the overall economy of Itasca County.

It would certainly appear that, even though the taxpayers of Itasca County pay so much money for the IEDC, the chief beneficiaries of this money are members of IEDC rather than the county which they have pledged to improve.

It seems as if the two paid employees of the IEDC have accomplished what they promised to do in their mission statement by finding high quality jobs for themselves, at our expense.

The “fat cats” on Wall Street would be proud.

Mike Vroman.