The Facts About Who Pays the Most in Taxes in America

Politicians exploit public ignorance. Few areas of public ignorance provide as many opportunities for political demagoguery as taxation.

Today some politicians argue that the rich must pay their fair share and label the proposed changes in tax law as tax cuts for the rich.

Let’s look at who pays what, with an eye toward attempting to answer this question: Are the rich paying their fair share?

According to the latest IRS data, the payment of income taxes is as follows.

The top 1 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted annual gross income of $480,930 or higher, pay about 39 percent of federal income taxes. That means about 892,000 Americans are stuck with paying 39 percent of all federal taxes.

The top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes.

About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. Is that fair, or do you think they should pay more?

By the way, earning $500,000 a year doesn’t make one rich. It’s not even yacht money.

But the fairness question goes further. The bottom 50 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income of $39,275 or less, pay 2.83 percent of federal income taxes.

Thirty-seven million tax filers have no tax obligation at all. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 45.5 percent of households will not pay federal income tax this year.

There’s a severe political problem of so many Americans not having any skin in the game. These Americans become natural constituencies for big-spending politicians. After all, if you don’t pay federal taxes, what do you care about big spending?

Also, if you don’t pay federal taxes, why should you be happy about a tax cut? What’s in it for you? In fact, you might see tax cuts as threatening your handout programs.

Our nation has a 38.91 percent tax on corporate earnings, the fourth-highest in the world. The House of Representatives has proposed that it be cut to 20 percent—some members of Congress call for a 15 percent rate.

The nation’s political hustlers object, saying corporations should pay their fair share of taxes. The fact of the matter—which even leftist economists understand, though they might not publicly admit it—is corporations do not pay taxes.

An important subject area in economics is called tax incidence. It holds that the entity upon whom a tax is levied does not necessarily bear its full burden. Some of it can be shifted to another party.

If a tax is levied on a corporation, it will have one of four responses or some combination thereof. It will raise the price of its product, lower dividends, cut salaries, or lay off workers. In each case, a flesh-and-blood person bears the tax burden.

The important point is that corporations are legal fictions and as such do not pay taxes. Corporations are merely tax collectors for the government.

Politicians love to trick people by suggesting that they will impose taxes not on them but on some other entity instead. We can personalize the trick by talking about property taxes.

Imagine that you are a homeowner and a politician tells you he is not going to tax you. Instead, he’s going to tax your property and land.

You would easily see the political chicanery. Land and property cannot and do not pay taxes. Again, only people pay taxes. The same principle applies to corporations.

There’s another side to taxes that goes completely unappreciated. According to a 2013 study by the Virginia-based Mercatus Center, Americans spend up to $378 billion annually in tax-related accounting costs, and in 2011, Americans spent more than 6 billion hours complying with the tax code.

Those hours are equivalent to the annual hours of a workforce of 3.4 million, or the number of people employed by four of the largest U.S. companies—Wal-Mart, IBM, McDonald’s, and Target—combined.

Along with tax cuts, tax simplification should be on the agenda.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Walter E. Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University

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Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

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Gun Rights Are Women’s Rights

The right to bear arms isn’t just a constitutional issue — it’s a women’s rights issue. Author and commentator Katie Pavlich explains why guns are the great equalizer between men and women.

RELATED ARTICLE: NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch Forced to Flee Own Home After Anti-Gun Advocates Make Death Threats – American News

TRANSCRIPT:

GUNS RIGHTS ARE WOMEN’S RIGHTS WITH KATIE PAVLICH

Do you want equality between men and women?

I do. Which is why I own a gun. My Glock 43 is my equalizer.

Too NRA for you? Then, let’s take a step back and think about this. I will start with this premise: Men are physically stronger than women.

I know: even this is controversial these days. But men have more muscle mass and greater bone density; they run faster, and punch harder. It’s called “biology.” If a woman is going to protect herself against a man who intends to do her serious harm, she needs to even the odds. And what’s the best way for her to do that? Own a gun — and know how to use it.

Given this, you would think that feminists would be lining up in front of gun shops, spending quality time at the shooting range, and filing for concealed carry permits. But when was the last time you heard a feminist speak out for women owning guns? You haven’t, because
feminists aren’t for gun ownership. They’re for taking guns away from women.

Well, you might say, if no one owned a gun, then everybody would be safer. Yes…and it would be nice if cheesecake was a diet food.

There are over 300 million guns in the United States and that’s not going to change any time soon. But even if we could build a giant magnet, fly it across the country and snap up every gun, it wouldn’t much matter to women’s safety.

In Great Britain, where it’s almost impossible to get a gun, a woman is three times more likely to be raped than in America, according to a study by David Kopel, a professor of constitutional law at Denver University.

Here’s another telling comparison between gun-free UK and gun-owning US: In the United States, only about 13 percent of home burglaries take place when the occupants are home, but in the UK, almost 60 percent do.

Professor Kopel explains the disparity: “American burglars . . . avoid occupied homes because of the risk of getting shot. English burglars prefer occupied homes, because there will be wallets and purses with cash.”

And, by the way, an assailant doesn’t need a gun to be dangerous. What do you do if you’re a woman and a man comes at you with a knife? Or just his bare hands? If you want to depend Free Courses for Free Minds.com on pepper spray or a whistle, okay—but I think your finger on the trigger of a gun would be more effective.

Take the example of mail carrier Catherine Latta. After she had been assaulted and raped by her ex-boyfriend, Latta tried to purchase a firearm. She was told it might take a month to get a permit. “[I’ll] be dead by then,” she recalls telling the clerk. That afternoon, she went to a rough part of town and bought a handgun. Five hours later, her ex-boyfriend attacked her outside of her home. She shot him in self-defense, and saved her life.

I should add that firing a gun is very rare. Just carrying it—let alone brandishing it—is a deterrent.

And, isn’t that the issue? Personal safety? How is a woman supposed to defend herself? What if an intruder breaks into her home?

Liberal TV personality Sherri Shepherd answered this question a few years ago.

“At one in the morning, the alarm in our house went off,” Shepherd told her co-hosts on the popular daytime show, “The View.” As the alarm blared, her husband, Sal, went downstairs to look around. If something happened to him, a terrified Shepherd realized, she had no way to protect herself or her son, Jeffrey. “ …All I had was this wicker basket…[I] don’t have a bat, nothing.”

“‘We’re going to get a gun,’” I told Sal. “[This] just made me realize how vulnerable you are if you can’t protect your home. And the police [were] wonderful; they came about seven minutes later, but to me, that’s seven minutes too late.”

Luckily for Shepherd, the incident was a false alarm. But there are lots of cases where the alarm is real, especially in high crime areas. Yet every year, progressives push for more and more gun control without ever considering who will pay the price.

It won’t be the bad guys. They always get the guns they want. It will be the good women who need to equal the odds in a dangerous confrontation with a man.

Women owning guns shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In fact, it’s a women’s rights issue.

I’m all for equality between the sexes. And I practice what I preach.

That’s why I own a gun.

I’m Katie Pavlich for Prager University.

Why I Oppose Banning Bump Stocks

The latest firearm-equipment boogeyman is the “bump stock,” a device allowing one to fire a semi-automatic rifle more rapidly. Liberals learned of bump stocks because Las Vegas murderer Stephen Paddock had modified 12 of his rifles with them.

This has made them a target for prohibition, and an easy one, too. After all, almost no one wants to buy a bump stock, so even many Republicans — and the National Rifle Association — are willing to place greater restrictions on the device. I also have no plans to acquire one, but I wouldn’t even consider outlawing the stock. Why?

Remember last year’s Orlando massacre, perpetrated by Muslim terrorist Omar Mateen? In its wake the gun boogeyman, as it has often been, was the AR-15, the sleek black gun with military looks that makes libs wet their panties. We were told how outrageous it was that such a “killing machine” (is this the Terminator we’re talking about?) was available to the public. But notice something funny?

Paddock also had an AR-15 rifle.

Yet we haven’t heard a peep from the mice about this “killing machine.” The reason?

Right now leftists have bump stocks to focus on. Being driven by emotion and/or Machiavellian motives (depending on the person), the type of equipment targeted in an anti-gun push is secondary, at best. The only consistent theme is an effort to steadily, incrementally erode gun rights. It doesn’t matter what weapon or accessory is outlawed today because there’ll be another opportunity, and target, after the next high-profile gun crime tomorrow.

The argument for a restriction is always the same. Logically rendered it states: “This _________ (fill in the blank) is far too effective to be available to the general public.” What this misses is that Second Amendment rights don’t exist just to secure the opportunity to go target shooting or hunting.

They exist to ensure that Americans can have effective weaponry. Full stop.

Again, realize that the current gun-grabber proposal has nothing to do with bump stocks. It has more to do with bumps in heads passing for brains that can’t figure out that any given anti-gun proposal is just another step in an evolutionary process whose apparent end game is the elimination of all guns. This must be concluded since liberals never articulate a different end game. And there always will be another massacre, and then another, and each will be followed with a further drum beat to outlaw _________, because it’s just too effective for citizens to own. It’s a crumb here, a morsel there, a slice today, a half a loaf tomorrow.

In his book Orthodoxy, in the chapter titled “The Eternal Revolution,” philosopher G.K. Chesterton wrote something relevant here:

“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision. Progress does mean…that we are always changing the vision.”

While this fault, lamentably, plagues most ideologists today to some degree, it characterizes liberals. They’re the situational-values set, and their goalposts are always shifting. This is why giving them an inch only means they’ll come back for a foot and, later, a mile. This is why you don’t give them even a millimeter. It’s why you must insist upon a certain prerequisite before considering any more anti-gun laws: that liberals articulate a hard and fast, unchanging vision, to be presented for consideration, of what guns laws should forevermore be.

No more free-association legislating. No more shots in the dark. No more making it up as you go along. For example:

  • You say bump stocks allow a person to fire too rapidly. Okay, what exactly is the maximum number of rounds per minute a weapon available to the public should be capable of firing? What’s your reasoning?
  • “High-capacity magazines” is an ambiguous term. Exactly what size magazine should citizens be allowed to own? What’s your reasoning?
  • Don’t tell us about “high-powered rifles.” Tell us exactly what the maximum muzzle velocity of a publicly available firearm should be. What’s your reasoning?
  • Another ambiguous (and misleading) term is “armor-piercing ammunition.” What exactly should the maximum penetration power of a publicly available round be? What’s your reasoning?

Once you formulate your concrete vision (for the first time in your lives), please present it. If we accept it, though, note what the agreement means: You don’t get to ask for more anti-gun laws ever again. There’s no more politicizing of the issue after every shooting. The vision is conceived, articulated, agreed upon — and then set in stone.

Of course, I’m sure there’s no way to make such a thing legally binding, and no other agreement with liberals is worth the paper it’s printed on. The point is that without such a vision’s presentation we shouldn’t even take anti-gun proposals seriously. Doing otherwise is akin to pandering to children (and liberals are overgrown children) when they stamp their feet and scream about what they want right now, “just because.”

This doesn’t mean we should be totally averse to compromise. So try this on for size: I propose reducing the 22,000 anti-gun laws currently on the books by 10,000. If that’s unacceptable, however, I’ll agree to a 5,000-law reduction — for now. There’s always next year’s negotiation, after all.

Don’t ever let it be said I’m not a reasonable guy.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

RELATED ARTICLE: Bump Stock Ban Fails in Deep-Blue Illinois

EDITORS NOTE: What is a bump stock?

A bump stock is a device that can be legally purchased and installed onto semi-automatic firearms, such as AR-15, AK-47, and Saiga models, replacing the rifles’ standard stocks.

Unlike automatic firearms, which fire continuously while the trigger is pulled, semi-automatic weapons fire one round per trigger-pull. The bump stock harnesses the recoil energy produced when a shot is fired from a semi-automatic rifle, and it “bumps” the weapon back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger.

Since the shooter’s finger is still pulling the trigger for each shot, the firearm technically remains a semi-automatic, even as it achieves a rate of fire similar to that produced by an automatic.

VIDEO OF A BUMP STOCK:

The Numbers Are in: Social Security Robs the Working Poor

The Social Security Administration’s own numbers reveal that a private investment pays more than Social Security.

Tom Eddlem

by  Tom Eddlem

Back in 2011, investment guru Warren Buffett famously complained in the New York Times that his secretaries were paying higher federal payroll tax rates than he was:

Our leaders have asked for ‘shared sacrifice.’ But when they did the asking, they spared me…. what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income – and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.”

Buffett used some creative accounting for his numbers; he used only “taxable income,” which means he didn’t count all the deductions his employees were using to write off their income taxes. For middle-class workers making about $75,000 per year, that’s typically a heavy percentage of their income. Moreover, for the tax rates Buffett claimed applied to his assistants, they must have been paid in the range of $200,000 per year or more.

Despite Buffett’s accounting trickery, there was a level of truth to his complaint: the burden of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes does fall almost exclusively upon the poor and middle classes. And Buffett acknowledged this fact in his New York Times op-ed:

The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.”

The Questionable Benefit of Paying Those Heavy Taxes

Buffett was correct to claim the poor and middle class pay heavy payroll taxes for the Social Security program. But do the poor and middle classes receive benefits from Social Security compared to the “investment” the federal government requires they make?

The Social Security Administration’s website now allows its “customers” to enter income numbers over a career and pull out a precise benefit level. So it’s relatively easy today for anyone to contrast private investments with Social Security benefit levels with an unprecedented level of precision. (This author has run the numbers several times before in the past few decades using the SSA’s PIA calculator application.)

While it has long been known that middle class and wealthy people do not profit by “investing” their money in Social Security compared with a private retirement fund, the impact of Social Security upon a worker trapped in a minimum wage job throughout his career has been left uncalculated – until now.Thus, the following question can be answered authoritatively:

Is it possible for a minimum wage worker to do better putting his money into Social Security than if he were allowed to invest his money in a private fund earning interest at the same rate as the S&P 500?

And the answer is this: No, it’s not possible. In every conceivable scenario, the private fund pays more than Social Security to the minimum wage worker.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Consider the case of a person who works 50 weeks per year, 40 hours per week at the legal minimum wage, beginning in 1970 and retiring at the end of 2017.

Only the Old Age and Survivors’ Assistance proportion of the Social Security tax can be added to the private fund, not Disability Insurance or Medicare, which in 2017 is 10.6 percent of total income (out of the 15.3 percent total tax imposed upon the self-employed). The worker must purchase a term insurance policy with a private fund to cover the “survivors” part of the risk in the Social Security program, and (to keep things fair) a 0.75 percent “management fee” is deducted from the retirement account annually.

Most couples in that salary range are actually two-income families.

At the end of his career, the minimum wage worker ends up with a retirement fund of $262,551.02 from the wages he otherwise would have paid into the Social Security “trust fund.”

From this account, a person could safely withdraw just over seven percent per year, with the fund replenishing itself in perpetuity without losing value – meanwhile, the S&P has grown at just over 11 percent annually, and inflation has been a little less than four percent during the same last 50 years. That’s an average monthly income of over $1,500, adjusted upwards for inflation over time, it is far more than the $974.00 that the Social Security Administration’s website claims it will pay its customers.

The numbers favor a private account even if one uses favorable circumstances for receiving Social Security, with a single income earner in a two-couple household where the spouse gets half the Social Security benefit of the wage-earner. The spousal benefit increases the monthly Social Security payment to $1,461.00, while the private fund remains the same at $1,579.68.

And this scenario is highly unlikely: A couple with just one worker making the legal federal minimum wage is a rarity; most couples in that salary range are two-income families. In a two-income minimum wage family, the private fund pays $3,159.36 versus a $1,948 monthly benefit from Social Security. In every family scenario, whether single, married with one income or married with two incomes, the difference is that Social Security is cheating poor retirees out of several hundred thousand dollars in benefits (see table below).

Single or Married, Alike

All three family scenarios assume a 2017 bull market with earnings of 10.62 percent increase in S&P 500-based private fund for 2017 (based upon YTD as of August 23). But what if the retirement date is at the bottom of a 2008-level stock market crash? Even in that scenario (in calendar year 2008, nearly 37 percent of the S&P 500’s value was erased by the bear market), every possible permutation of family arrangement makes more total money from the private fund than from Social Security. Whether single earners, two-income couples, and one-income couples, all make more than Social Security in a private fund.

There’s only one artificial scenario that could be constructed where Social Security could claim to be of partial benefit to a poor family. If:

  1. The minimum wage worker retires at the bottom of a 2008-style recession, and
  2. One were to count only monthly payments (not discounting a death benefit of the value of $166,588.62 in the recession-reduced private fund), and
  3. It is a single-income married family.

Then, Social Security pays a slightly higher monthly benefit. Over a typical benefit lifespan – 256 months for women and 215 months for men – Social Security’s monthly payments make up for nearly two-thirds of the death benefit in a private fund.

When the leftist mainstream media reported about Warren Buffett’s column, they focused exclusively upon the income tax proportion of the tax burden. They ignored how Buffett’s column acknowledges that Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes are not “contributions” to a “trust fund” to care for workers, akin to private sector 401k plans, but are instead regressive taxes imposed upon the working classes.

This admission belies a political establish core tenet of faith that goes back to the New Deal, that Social Security serves as an investment to protect poor and middle-class workers and is not as a general revenue tax. Buffett’s essay busted that myth by correctly claiming that Social Security impoverishes working people with general revenue taxation.

But even if one assumes Social Security taxes are an “investment” made by the poor for their retirement like a 401k plan, the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration itself reveal it’s still a financial rip-off for the very poorest of the working poor.

Tom Eddlem

Tom Eddlem

Thomas R. Eddlem is a freelance writer who has been published in more than 20 periodicals, and a high school history and economics teacher. He’s the author of Primary Source American History, available on TeachersPayTeachers.com and his blog is located at teddlem.blogspot.com.

Problematic Women Video: College Students Use Sex Objects to Protest Katie Pavlich

At the University of  Wisconsin-Madison this week, Fox News contributor and Second Amendment advocate Katie Pavlich faced a new brand of protest from liberal campus activists—sex objects.

The protest, named “Cocks Not Glocks,” was reportedly organized by students and led by Katherine Kerwin and focused on Pavlich’s views that guns can protect women from being sexually assaulted on campus.

Their rationale, according to Facebook, goes like this:

Katie Pavlich thinks that you can murder campus sexual assault away. Young Americans for Freedom thinks that her presence on campus is necessary to defend free speech.

Therefore, Cocks Not Glocks: UW Madison will be gathering during Pavlich’s speech to create and present dick art that has ZERO literary, artistic, political, educational, or scientific value. You know, for free speech.

In order to participate, the event page encouraged students to “tie that dildo to your backpack and wear it proudly to class every day.”

If people think taking loaded guns to class is socially acceptable, harmless vibrating toys should be too.

Although Pavlich’s speech, hosted by the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, went smoothly on Tuesday, students did come out to demonstrate using these profanities.

For this reason, this week’s edition of “Problematic Women” is honoring Pavlich as our “Problematic Woman of the Week.” In this show, co-hosted with Bre Payton of The Federalist, we show clips of the protest Pavlich faced, discuss the hypocrisy of liberal Hollywood, and the Boy Scouts of America deciding to welcome young girls into its programs.

Watch in the video above.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Kelsey Harkness

Kelsey Harkness is a senior news producer at The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kelsey. Twitter: 

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

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My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare by Michelle Malkin

Cue the funeral bagpipes. My fourth health insurance plan is dead.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I received yet another cancellation notice for our private, individual health insurance coverage. It’s our fourth Obamacare-induced obituary in four years.

Our first death notice, from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, arrived in the fall of 2013. The insurer informed us that because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA),” our plan no longer met the federal government’s requirements.

Never mind our needs and desires as consumers who were quite satisfied with a high-deductible preferred provider organization that included a wide network of doctors for ourselves and our two children.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

Our second death knell, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, tolled in August 2015. That notice signaled the end of a plan we didn’t want in the first place that didn’t cover our kids’ dental care and wasn’t accepted at our local urgent care clinic.

The insurer pulled out of the individual market in all but one county in Colorado, following the complete withdrawal from that sector by Humana and UnitedHealthcare.

Our third “notice of plan discontinuation,” again from Anthem, informed us that the insurer would “no longer offer your current health plan in the state of Colorado” in August 2016.

With fewer and fewer choices as know-it-all Obamacare bureaucrats decimated the individual market here and across the country, we enrolled in a high-deductible Bronze HSA EPO (Health Savings Account Exclusive Provider Organization) offered by Minneapolis-based startup Bright Health.

Now, here we are barely a year later: Deja screwed times four. Our current plan will be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2018.

“But don’t worry,” Bright Health’s eulogy writer chirped, “we have similar plans to address your needs.”

Riiiiight. Where have I heard those pie-in-the-sky promises before? Oh, yeah. Straight out of the socialized medicine Trojan horse’s mouth.

“If you like your doctor,” President Barack Obama promised, “you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Is pathological lying covered under the Affordable Care Act?

Speaking of Affordable Care Act whoppers, so much for “affordable.” Our current deductible is $6,550 per person—$13,100 for our family of four. Assuming we can find a new plan at the bottom of the individual market barrel, our current monthly premium, $944.86, will rise to more than $1,300 a month.

“What’s taking place is a market correction; the free market is at work,” says Colorado’s state insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar. “[T]his could be an indication that there were too many options for the market to support.”

This presumptuous central planner called federal intervention to eliminate “too many” options for consumers the free market at work. Yes, friends, the Rocky Mountain High is real.

This isn’t a “market correction.” It’s a government catastrophe.

Premiums for individual health plans in Virginia are set to skyrocket nearly 60 percent in 2018. In New Hampshire, those rates will rise 52 percent.

In South Carolina, individual market consumers will face an average 31.3 percent hike. In Tennessee, they’ll see rates jump between 20-40 percent.

Private, flexible preferred provider organizations for self-sufficient, self-employed people are vanishing by design. The social-engineered future—healthy, full-paying consumers being herded into government-run Obamacare exchanges and severely regulated regional health maintenance organizations—is a bipartisan big government health bureaucracy’s dream come true.

These choice-wreckers had the arrogant audacity to denigrate our pre-Obamacare plans as “substandard” (Obama), “crappy” (MSNBC big mouth Ed Schultz), and “junk policies” (Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa).

When I first called attention to the cancellation notice tsunami in 2013, liberal Mother Jones magazine sneered that the phenomenon was “phony.” And they’re still denying the Obamacare death spiral. Liberal Vox Media recently called the crisis “a lie.”

I don’t have enough four-letter words for these propagandists. There are an estimated 450,000 consumers like us in Colorado and 17 million of us nationwide—small business owners, independent contractors, and others who don’t get their plans through group coverage, big companies, or government employers.

The costs, headaches, and disruption in our lives caused by Obamacare’s meddling meddlers are real and massive.

But we’re puzzles to corporate media journalists who’ve never had to meet a payroll and don’t even know what is the individual market.

We’re invisible to late night TV clowns who get their Obamacare-at-all-costs talking points from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

We’re pariahs to social justice health care activists and Democrats who want us to just shut up and subsidize everyone else’s insurance.

And we’re expendables to establishment Republicans who hoovered up campaign donations on the empty promise to repeal Obamacare—and now consider amnesty for immigrants here illegally and gun control higher legislative priorities than keeping their damned word.

We’re the canaries in the Obamacare coal mine. Ignore us at your peril, America. You’re next.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin is the senior editor of Conservative Review. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a FOX News Channel contributor. Twitter: 

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Why Trump’s Executive Order on Health Care Is a Positive Step

Trump, Paul Forge Alliance on ‘Biggest Free-Market Reform of Health Care in Generation’

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

Should the United States Military Academy at West Point Remain Open?

I am a graduate of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Washington University, in St. Louis, Missouri. I graduated in July 1967 and because I received one of the first full two year ROTC scholarships I was given a Regular Army commission and had a four year service obligation, the same as graduates of the United State Military Academy at West Point.

I served in peace time and in combat with many officers, subordinates, colleagues and superiors, who graduated from West Point. They, to a man, were always fine officers and gentlemen. I retired from the U.S. Army in 1990 as a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC).

It saddened me to receive a copy of a letter from LTC Robert M. Heffington, U.S. Army (Retired). A sworn statement by Colonel Heffington has been referenced in multiple publications dealing with former West Point Cadet, and now U.S. Army Lieutenant Spenser Rapone. In a Breitbart column titled “West Point Launches Investigation over Its Handling of Communist Soldier” Kristina Wong reports:

 [I]t was unclear whether West Point was aware of his activity as a student until the Daily Caller on Wednesday published a sworn statement from a then-West Point history professor, which mentioned Rapone’s anti-U.S. and pro-communist views.

Retired Army Lieutenant Col. Robert M. Heffington gave the statement after a tense encounter with Rapone, whom he said had a “serious problem with military authority figures.”

Heffington said he shared his misgivings about Rapone with three close friends and colleagues, and one of them showed him Rapone’s Facebook page, which contained a number of anti-military, anti-government, pro-communist, and pro-Muslim posts stemming back to 2014. Read more.

West Point has produced former presidents, numerous corporate executives and officers of the highest caliber who have held the highest positions in our military and Department of Defense. I have only the highest respect for graduates of West Point. However, West Point is under intense scrutiny for admitting, graduating and commissioning someone like Spencer Rapone.

QUESTION: Is Spenser Rapone an anomaly or endemic of something bigger?

That is the question raised and answered by LTC Heffington in his letter.

LTC Heffington’s letter begins with,

Before you read any further, please understand that the following paragraphs come from a place of intense devotion and loyalty to West Point. My experience as a cadet had a profound impact upon who I am and upon the course of  my life, and I remain forever grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of the Long Gray Line. I firmly believe West Point is a national treasure and that it can and should remain a vitally important source of well trained,  disciplined, highly educated Army officers and civilian leaders.

LTC Heffington then writes, “However, during my time on the West Point faculty (2006-2009 and again from 2013-2017), I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open.”

Here are the reasons that, sadly, LTC Heffington questions whether West Point should remain open:

  • First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline. The end result is a sort of malaise that pervades the entire institution. Nothing matters anymore. Cadets know this, and it has given rise to a level of cadet arrogance and entitlement the likes of which West Point has never seen in its history.
  • The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock. Cadets know they will not be separated for violating it, and thus they do so on a daily basis. Moreover, since they refuse to enforce standards on each other and police their own ranks, cadets will rarely find a cadet at an honor hearing despite overwhelming evidence that a violation has occurred. This in turn has caused the staff and faculty to give up even reporting honor incidents.
  • Academic standards are also nonexistent. I believe this trend started approximately ten years ago, and it has continued to get worse. West Point has stated standards for academic expectations and performance, but they are ignored. Cadets routinely fail multiple classes and they are not separated at the end-of-semester Academic Boards. Their professors recommend “Definitely Separate,” but those recommendations are totally disregarded.
  • Even the curriculum itself has suffered. The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.”
  • Conduct and disciplinary standards are in perhaps the worst shape of all. Cadets are jaded, cynical, arrogant, and entitled. They routinely talk back to and snap at their instructors (military and civilian alike), challenge authority, and openly refuse to follow regulations. They are allowed to wear civilian clothes in almost any arena outside the classroom, and they flaunt that privilege.

LTC Heffington ended his letter writing:

It breaks my heart to write this. It breaks my heart to know first-hand what West Point was versus what it has become. This is not a “Corps has” story; it is meant to highlight a deliberate and radical series of changes being undertaken at the highest levels of USMA’s leadership that are detrimental to the institution. Criticizing these changes is not popular. I have already been labeled a “traitor” by some at the Academy due to my sworn statement’s appearance in the media circus surrounding Spenser Rapone. However, whenever I hear this, I am reminded of the Cadet Prayer:

“…suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish.

Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,

and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.

…that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no

fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

West Point was once special, and it can be again. Spenser Rapone never should have been admitted, much less graduate, but he was—and that mistake is directly attributable to the culture of permissiveness and apathy that now exists there.

It hurts me to publish this as a retired Army officer as much as it saddened LTC Heffington who wrote this letter. LTC Heffington is truly an officer and a gentleman. He is doing what his training, oath and rank require – to tell the truth.

Duty, honor, country!

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

Letter from LTC Robert M. Heffington, U.S. Army (Retired)

Letter from Commandant of the USMA at West Point.

What Trump Told Congress He Wants to See on Immigration

Before granting legal status to illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, President Donald Trump wants to push enhanced border security, interior enforcement, and move toward a merit-based legal immigration system.

At this point, Democrats would be blamed if an amnesty isn’t enacted, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-border security think tank.

“It’s the opening bid, the president is going to aim high, but I’m skeptical of whether Democrats will negotiate and come up with a counteroffer,” Krikorian told The Daily Signal. “They just expected Trump to sign an amnesty bill. The ball is now in the Democrats’ court.”

Trump is working with Congress on a legislative fix to the Obama-era executive action granting temporary legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the country as children, the policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Trump’s letter outlines 70 principles for any immigration legislation. This includes the completion of a border wall, which was the cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign. However, he indicated that it would not be part of the deal with Congress on codifying the Obama-era DACA policy.

Trump asked the administration to conduct a review and provide recommendations.

“Rather than asking what policies are supported by special interests, we asked America’s law enforcement professionals to identify reforms that are vital to protect the national interest,” Trump said in the letter. “In response, they identified dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system—current policies that are harming our country and our communities.”

Trump’s principles on immigration—presented in a letter to Congress Sunday—are solid enough, but this still poses the problem of trading amnesty up front for the promise of stronger enforcement maybe later down the road, said David Inserra, a homeland security policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation.

“Amnesty is one and done, but enforcement measures still require annual appropriation, annual policy, and adjustments to the policy,” Inserra told The Daily Signal. “We should enforce our laws first and foremost.”

Trump’s letter to Congress calls for closing loopholes on illegal immigrants to make deportations easier, and to fund another 370 immigration judges to expedite court cases.

Trump also asserted the need to cut off federal funding to sanctuary states and cities, which are jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. California recently became a sanctuary state. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., denounced Trump’s plans.

Trump also calls for cracking down on visa overstays, which the letter says account for 40 percent of all illegal immigration.

“The administration therefore proposes strengthening the removal processes for those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas, and implementing measures to prevent future visa overstays which may account for a growing percentage of illegal immigration,” the letter says.

The proposal would also debar any company that doesn’t use E-Verify from qualifying for federal contracts. E-Verify is an electronic system for employers to determine the legal status of employees.

UnidosUS, a Hispanic rights group formerly known as the National Council of La Raza, blasted Trump’s principles.

“President Trump has gone back on a promise to support a clean bill and instead is now seeking to sabotage legislation aimed at giving these young people a chance for a stable and prosperous future by loading the bill with unpopular and controversial measures,” said Janet Murguía, president of UnidosUS, in a statement. “Sending these so-called ‘conditions’ to Congress is simply a way to stop the bipartisan effort behind a clean DREAM bill.”

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of President Donald J. Trump is by Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom.

Some Say GOP Tax Plan Would Raise Taxes. Here’s What They’re Missing.

Since the release of the GOP’s long-awaited tax reform plan, a flurry of commentators have criticized it, saying it is a regressive plan that will raise taxes on a sizable portion of Americans.

What they often fail to mention is that their estimates depend on details of the plan that have yet to be released. As it turns out, different assumptions about those details can dramatically alter the projections of who gets a tax cut under the GOP plan.

For a vast majority of Americans, the main changes they would experience from the plan would be to their income tax rate, the standard deduction, the personal and dependent exemption, and the Child Tax Credit.

So what do we know about how the GOP plan will affect these variables?

1. It would lower individual tax rates.

The GOP’s framework would lower rates and consolidate tax brackets for individuals. The three new income tax brackets (down from seven) are 12, 25, and 35 percent, but the framework does not specify what the income thresholds will be.

The plan also mentions that an additional fourth top rate may be added.

2. It would double the standard deduction.

The framework would almost double the standard deduction. It would do so by collapsing the additional standard deduction and personal exemptions into the one larger deduction available to everyone.

For married joint filers the deduction would be $24,000, and for single filers it would be $12,000. This means taxes would become much easier for many people because they won’t need to itemize or check frivolous boxes.

3. It would expand the Child Tax Credit.

The framework would repeal the personal exemption for dependents, “significantly increase” the Child Tax Credit, and increase the income limits at which the credit currently begins to phase out.

The framework gives no further details on these items.

Taken together, it is still uncertain how these changes will ultimately alter any individual or family’s tax liability. There are other proposed reforms that could also interact with these changes, but that hasn’t stopped commentators from projecting winners and losers.

Other analyses have simply mapped the current tax brackets on to the new rates so that the current 15 percent bracket would now pay 12 percent, the current 25 and 28 percent brackets make up the new 25 percent bracket, and the 33-39.6 percent brackets are consolidated into the 35 percent bracket.

These assumptions are often biased. They keep many Americans paying the same tax rate and actually project an increase in some people’s rate. It’s very unlikely that these conservative lawmakers intend to do that.

If we assume different income thresholds that are entirely reasonable, we find very different results.

One could, for instance, raise the new income thresholds by 15 percent so that more people would pay a lower tax rate. Lower taxes are, after all, a key stated goal of the plan.

Using The Heritage Foundation Individual Income Tax Model, we estimated what these changes—along with the other details released thus far—would mean for taxpayers. In particular, we modeled:

  • 15 percent higher income thresholds for the new brackets.
  • Doubling of the standard deduction.
  • Elimination of all personal exemptions.

With these three changes, some of our modeled income groups would end up paying slightly more in taxes because the lower rates and higher standard deductions don’t fully compensate for getting rid of the dependent exemption.

But increasing the Child Tax Credit by a modest $100 flips all of our income groups into the black. And that’s even without increasing the credit’s income limits.

Pairing this with the new larger standard deduction and lower tax rates, most families would end up paying less in taxes than they currently do. In fact, every income group would pay a lower tax bill.

Those households with adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $125,000, for example, would see a significant drop in their tax bill of about 6 percent.

Those with adjusted gross income below $50,000 would receive the smallest tax savings because they already pay very little in taxes. However, the Child Tax Credit would likely increase by $500 or more, which would largely benefit this group.

Moreover, other changes to state and local tax deductions and other provisions would likely shift some of the gains for upper-income earners toward middle- and lower-income earners.

(Of course, it is near impossible to enact pro-growth tax reform without some positive benefits for the individuals and small business that pay the majority of taxes, and the top 5 percent of taxpayers pay 60 percent of all federal income taxes.)

These are perfectly reasonable assumptions to make about the details of the GOP plan, given the political promises that have been made. Tax cuts for middle-class Americans are going to be real.

There are also several other possible changes that would alter our analysis, such as eliminating the state and local tax and municipal bond interest deductions (along with some other itemized deductions), creating the newly proposed nonrefundable credit of $500 for non-child dependent care, and nixing the alternative minimum tax.

Regardless of whether these changes occur, the GOP plan makes a huge stride by expanding the standard deduction. Given that 70 percent of Americans already take this deduction, our results show that the GOP plan may very likely result in a tax cut for Americans across the board.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Kevin Dayaratna

Kevin D. Dayaratna specializes in tax, energy and health policy issues as senior statistician and research programmer in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. Read his research. Twitter: 

Portrait of Adam Michel

Adam Michel focuses on tax policy and the federal budget as a policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: 

Portrait of Rachel Greszler

Rachel Greszler is a senior policy analyst in economics and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. Read her research.

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., making remarks as the GOP introduces its tax reform framework is by Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom)

Obamacare Failed Breastfeeding Mothers

In a classic case of unintended consequences, what was meant to help new mothers actually made things more expensive and difficult.

Lauren K. Hall

by  Lauren K. Hall

I recently had a conversation with my health insurance company that gave me some interesting perspective on the current US health care system. I’m pregnant, so I called to figure out whether my insurance covered a new breast pump for when I return to work while nursing. There was good news and bad news.

Good news: insurance covers (most of) a new breast pump!

Bad news: Due to federal regulations and insurance bureaucracy, I cannot simply order the pump I want from Amazon, where prices are clearly laid out, the pump I want is in stock, and I know what I am getting. Instead, my insurance gave me a list of 10 different medical supply companies, all of which provide different pumps and half of which do not list prices. This is a problem since my insurance only covers $178 of the pump’s price.

So rather than spending two minutes ordering a pump from Amazon, I will spend at least an entire morning sifting through websites mostly designed circa 2004 and filling out various information request forms to find out whether the company carries the pump I want and how much the same pump costs at these different websites. I will also need to get a prescription from my doctor, which will require another appointment and more paperwork.

All in all, a process that should take two minutes will now take at least a week of back and forth, many emails, multiple phone calls, and shipping that will definitely take longer than two-day Prime shipping.

So what’s going on here?

The Unintended Consequences of Health Insurance Mandates

The breast pump example is a classic case of unintended consequences. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, one much-lauded goal was to provide better support for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. The requirement was touted as a way mothers could nurse longer (a major public health goal that may or may not make a lot of sense), particularly once they re-entered the workforce.

The requirement, as many have noted, turned a normal consumer good into a medical device that all women could get for “free,” regardless of income level. Some four million American women give birth every year, and some large percentage of those at least attempt to breastfeed. Many, if not most, nursing mothers will need a breast pump at some point, so the costs of this mandate are not small.

Insurance companies, predictably, did not respond altruistically and absorb the costs of an expensive new mandate. They passed some of these costs on to consumers in the form of higher premiums but also sought to control costs by limiting the kinds of pumps mothers had access to. My insurance, for example, only covers a single electric pump, which is ironic because the last time I checked, most women have two breasts. But insurers’ rationale is understandable: they’ve been ordered to provide a free thing — not necessarily the best free thing out there, nor the free thing that actually would meet women’s wants and needs for pumping.Companies also, predictably, increased the red tape associated with ordering a breast pump, both to ensure they can prove their compliance to the federal government, and also probably in part to make it harder for women to access the benefit. I didn’t bother getting an insurance-covered breast pump for my second child (the ACA wasn’t fully in effect when I had my first) because I had an old breast pump a friend had given me and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a new pump while wrangling a newborn.

Without government interference in my insurance plan, where would I be today? I probably would have taken some of the money I would have saved in slightly lower premiums and bought myself the breast pump I really wanted. Instead, I’m faced with both paying higher premiums and being forced to choose a product that does not fit my needs. As FEE’s Pamela Hobart discussed, lower-income women already had access to low-cost breast pumps through the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Why did the government believe it necessary to mandate coverage for all women, when most women not on WIC would have been better served simply buying the breast pump they really wanted out of pocket? Obviously, the answer is political, but it makes little to no economic sense.

Government Micromanagement and Insurance Bureaucracy

My breast pump saga is merely one example of a much broader lesson that goes well beyond nursing mothers. The more government micromanages what insurance companies are required to do, the more insurance companies will respond with red tape and hurdles to lower their own costs and prevent being taken advantage of.The breast pump saga is also an important reminder of what insurance was originally not meant to do. Health insurance was meant to help cover the catastrophic costs of medical care that an average person could not have foreseen: getting hit by a bus, developing cancer, or needing a liver transplant. Health insurance was never meant to provide people with basic consumer goods they can and should be saving for themselves. It also was never meant to pay for regular checkups, physicals, and the foreseeable and moderate expenses of being a human being with a fallible body.

Now we use health insurance to pay for everything from yearly physicals to breast pumps to blood pressure screenings, and the government continues to mandate more and more covered items and procedures. The result has not been better care, but escalating costs and more restrictions on consumer choice. None of that seems like much of a “benefit” to me.

So how did my pump saga ultimately end? After a few hours of wasted time Googling and talking to medical supply companies on the phone, I ended up ordering the pump I wanted from a local medical supply company. That pump, available for $174.98 on Amazon, ended up costing my insurance $178.00 and me another $70, while the sticker price on the receipt inexplicably totaled $318.00. Total extra bureaucratic costs: a few hours of my time, my insurance company’s time, the medical supply company’s time, and an extra $70 to $140, depending on which price you hold to be the “real” price.

But yes, by all means, let’s get MORE government involvement in healthcare.

Reprinted from Learn Liberty

Lauren K. Hall

Lauren K. Hall

Lauren has is Associate Professor of Political Science at the College of Liberal Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology. She is also a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Schooling Was for the Industrial Era, Unschooling Is for the Future

We’ve entered a new era, the Imagination Age, so why are we still schooling kids like we did in the 19th Century?

Kerry McDonald

by  Kerry McDonald

Our current compulsory schooling model was created at the dawn of the Industrial Age. As factories replaced farm work and production moved swiftly outside of homes and into the larger marketplace, 19th century American schooling mirrored the factories that most students would ultimately join.

The bells and buzzers signaling when students could come and go, the tedium of the work, the straight lines and emphasis on conformity and compliance, the rows of young people sitting passively at desks while obeying their teachers, the teachers obeying the principal, and so on—all of this was designed for factory-style efficiency and order.

The Imagination Age

The trouble is that we have left the Industrial Era for the Imagination Age, but our mass education system remains fully entrenched in factory-style schooling. By many accounts, mass schooling has become even more restrictive than it was a century ago, consuming more of childhood and adolescence than at any time in our history. The first compulsory schooling statute, passed in Massachusetts in 1852, required eight to 14-year-olds to attend school a mere 12 weeks a year, six of which were to be consecutive. This seems almost laughable compared to the childhood behemoth that mass schooling has now become.

Enclosing children in increasingly restrictive schooling environments for most of their formative years, and drilling them with a standardized, test-driven curriculum is woefully inadequate for the Imagination Age. In her book, Now You See It, Cathy Davidson says that 65 percent of children now entering elementary school will work at jobs in the future that have not yet been invented. She writes: “In this time of massive change, we’re giving our kids the tests and lesson plans designed for their great-great-grandparents.”

While the past belonged to assembly line workers, the future belongs to creative thinkers, experimental doers, and inventive makers. The past relied on passivity; the future will be built on passion. In a recent article on the future of work, author and strategist John Hagel III writes about the need to nurture passion to be successful and fulfilled in the jobs to come. He says:

One of my key messages to individuals in this changing world is to find your passion and integrate your passion with your work. One of the challenges today is that most people are products of the schools and society we’ve had, which encourage you to go to work to get a paycheck, and if it pays well, that’s a good job, versus encouraging you to find your passion and find a way to make a living from it.

Passion-Driven Learning

Cultivating passion is nearly impossible within a coercive schooling structure that values conformity over creativity, compliance over-exuberance. This could help explain why the unschooling, or Self-Directed Education, movement is taking off, with more parents migrating from a schooling model of education for their children to a learning one. With Self-Directed Education, passion is at the center of all learning. Young people follow their interests and pursue their passions, while adults act as facilitators, connecting children and teens to the vast resources of both real and digital communities. In this model, learning is natural, non-coercive, and designed to be directed by the individual herself, rather than by someone else.

Self-Directed Education and unschooling often take place in homes and throughout communities, but increasingly individuals and organizations are launching self-directed learning centers geared toward homeschoolers with both full- and part-time options. These centers make Self-Directed Education more accessible to more families in more places, and each has a unique philosophy or focus. Some are geared toward teens and value real-world apprenticeships and immersion; others are makerspaces that emphasize tinkering and technology, and so on. In Boston, for instance, the JP Green School in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood serves as a part-time self-directed learning space for homeschoolers and unschoolers with a focus on sustainability and nature connection.  Co-founder Andrée Zaleska says:

People educated in coercive models will be damaged for life (most of us are). The lack of respect shown to their autonomous selves as children translates into a lifelong tendency to “get what they need” by any means necessary…We are part of a growing counterculture which finds traditional schooling damaging in ways that are intertwined with the general brokenness of our culture.

Instead of complaining about the education status quo, entrepreneurial individuals are building alternatives to school that challenge it. Centered around passion and an overarching belief in individual self-determination, these entrepreneurs — who are often parents, former school teachers, and others who have become disillusioned by coercive schooling — are freeing young people from an outdated and harmful mass schooling system. Enlightened parents and innovative entrepreneurs may be the key players in constructing a new education model focused on freedom and designed for the Imagination Age.

Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald has a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard. She lives in Cambridge, Mass. with her husband and four never-been-schooled children. Follow her writing at Whole Family Learning.

The United States Rejected Obamacare in 1918

The AMA set out to destroy the excellent system of healthcare insurance set up by fraternal societies.

Roger McKinney

by  Roger McKinney

The US rejected Obamacare in 1918. What a difference a mere hundred years makes! US voters rejected mandatory health insurance, or Obamacare, at the turn of the last century. It took supporters almost another century, but they finally won.

For a quarter century before WWI, many of the nation’s young people went to Germany to complete their college education and returned determined to recreate the US in the image of socialist Germany. Richard Ely was one. He founded the American Economic Association for that sole purpose. He and economist Irving Fisher would lead the drive for universal, mandatory health care insurance.

At the time, middle class and wealthier Americans paid a fee each time they visited a doctor. But the fees were too high for the working poor who instead organized into mutual aid societies to help each other with medical costs. Known as lodges, such as the Elks, or secret societies such the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) or the Freemasons, or just fraternal organizations, mutual help societies existed for centuries. They followed the ancient guild practices of mutual aid to craft members. David T. Beito beautifully writes their history in his book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services 1890-1967, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2000.

Socialists became wary of lodges, or fraternal societies, partly because of their secret passwords and handshakes. But the societies developed those for security purposes because they suffered from fraud by non-members wanting to cash in on the benefits. Two centuries ago an IOOF chapter in one state couldn’t easily contact another out-of-state chapter to confirm the membership of someone who wanted aid. The passwords and handshakes solved the problem.

In the earliest day, the lodges offered burial insurance because poor people were terrified of suffering the indignities of a pauper’s burial. Later, they added healthcare and life insurance, built orphanages and hospitals, and provided pensions. The Shriners branch of the Freemasons still maintain children’s hospitals. Without the lodges, most members could not afford to pay fee-for-service doctors and would otherwise go without medical care. Readers who want to know how medical care should operate and what is wrong with today’s system should read Mr. Beito’s book.

Medical Establishment Attack on Mutual Aid

The medical establishment began attacking the lodges as early as the 1890s because the lodges would contract with doctors for a flat fee per year per member to provide medical care for lodge members. The practice, known as “capitation,” is making a comeback with the federal government as a means to restrain the explosive growth in the costs of medical care. Lodges usually contracted with doctors from private medical schools set up by other doctors to fill the deficiency in the supply of new doctors by the state schools.

The American Medical Association (AMA) claimed that the lodges kept doctor pay too low, causing some to starve. So they launched public relations campaigns to stigmatize the lodge system and the doctors who served the working poor. They bribed politicians to shut down the medical schools they didn’t approve of, of course in the interest of “public health and safety” in the Baptists and Bootleggers style, in order to create a shortage of doctors. They bribed hospitals to reject doctors who worked with lodges and convinced medical organizations to ostracize them. AMA doctors refused to work at lodge-owned hospitals and the AMA worked tirelessly to shut those hospitals down. The AMA’s assault on “low pay” for their doctors finally worked,

Lodge practice was also a victim of an overall shrinkage in the supply of physicians due to a relentless campaign of professional “birth control” imposed by the medical societies. In 1910, for example, the United States had 164 doctors per 100,000 people, compared with only 125 in 1930. This shift occurred in great part because of increasingly tight state certification requirements. Fewer doctors not only translated into higher medical fees but also weaker bargaining power for lodges. Meanwhile, the number of medical schools plummeted from a high of 166 in 1904 to 81 in 1922. The hardest hit were the proprietary schools, a prime recruiting avenue for lodges.

When socialists and the AMA proposed mandatory health insurance for every citizen in the early 1900s, the lodges saw it as an attack on their system of self-reliance and mutual aid. Enough Americans shared the same values as the lodges that they defeated the proposals in two referenda. In 1918 the citizens of California voted three to one to reject mandatory health insurance. It failed again in New York in 1919.

Abandoning Traditional Values

But the times they were a-changing, and morality with it. Americans were abandoning traditional Christianity rapidly and its values of self-reliance and mutual aid. Of course, churches had always provided charity to the poorest since the early days of Christianity recorded in the Book of Acts in the Bible. But until the 1920s, Americans resisted accepting charity as much as they could out of a sense of honor. The lodges intended to help the working poor, not supplant charitable work. By the 1920s Americans interpreted self-reliance as selfishness. As Beito wrote,

The traditional fraternal worldview was under attack. Age-old virtues such as mutual aid, character building, self-restraint, thrift, and self-help, once taken for granted, came under fire either as outmoded or as drastically in need of modification.

In 1918 Clarence W. Tabor used his textbook, Business of the Household, to warn that if savings “means stunted lives, that is, physical derelicts or mental incompetents…through enforced self-denial and the absence of bodily comforts, or the starving of mental cravings and the sacrifice of spiritual development – then the price of increased bank deposits is too high.” An earlier generation would have dismissed these statements. Now they were in the mainstream. Bruce Barton, the public relations pioneer and author of the best-selling life of Christ, The Man Nobody Knows, espoused the ideal of self-realization rather than self-reliance, declaring that “life is meant to live and enjoy as you go along…. If self-denial is necessary I’ll practice some of it when I’m old and not try to do all of it now. For who knows? I may never be old.”

JM Keynes echoed Barton in the 1930’s with his famous line, “In the long run we’re all dead,” and with his continual assault on the evils of the Protestant work ethic and savings. The ideal of “service” replaced that of self-reliance. By “service” socialists meant that the wealthy should give to the poor. They helped remove the stigma of charity by convincing the poor that they shouldn’t be ashamed of receiving aid because the wealthy owed it to them.

The U.S. Became Increasingly Socialist

In addition to the efforts of the AMA to destroy the excellent system of healthcare insurance set up by the fraternal societies, the progress of socialism continued to erode the appeal of self-help. For example, the federal government gave favorable tax treatment to corporations who offered group insurance without extending that to individuals while members of fraternal organizations received no tax deductions for their healthcare insurance.

Corporations then paid the premiums so workers were fooled into thinking their insurance was free. Good economists understand that corporations merely deducted the premiums from future pay raises. The lodges argued that group insurance from the employer would enslave workers to a single company because they would lose their insurance if they lost their job whereas lodge insurance traveled with the individual. The lodges were right as we have found out.

The Great Depression weakened lodges as the bulk of the 25% unemployment came from their ranks, the working poor. More assaults on mutual aid came with the passage of social security legislation, company pensions, and worker’s compensation insurance. Again, the government allowed corporations to deduct expenses for those from their taxes without extending the privilege to individuals in fraternal organizations. Then came Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s.

The book exposes the lie that socialists proposed their welfare measures because they saw a desperate need for them. Churches and charities had provided for the poor who couldn’t work since Biblical times, while the fraternal societies took care of the working poor very well. In 1924, 48% of working-class adult males were lodge members.

Socialists opposed the lodge system, not because it failed; it hadn’t. They opposed it because they wanted the services provided by the state as they were in Germany. They convinced the American people that socialism would not just help the poor, as the churches and fraternal organizations were, but would eliminate poverty. And as Helmut Schoeck warned us in his Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, the lust to destroy successful people served as fuel for the fire. Beito’s concluding paragraph is worth reprinting in full:

The shift from mutual aid and self-help to the welfare state has involved more than a simple bookkeeping transfer of service provision from one set of institutions to another. As many of the leaders of fraternal societies had feared, much was lost in an exchange that transcended monetary calculations. The old relationships of voluntary reciprocity and autonomy have slowly given way to paternalistic dependency. Instead of mutual aid, the dominant social welfare arrangements of Americans have increasingly become characterized by impersonal bureaucracies controlled by outsiders.

Roger McKinney

Roger McKinney

Roger D. McKinney works as an analyst for a tiny healthcare insurance agency in Tulsa and writes a blog about economics at rdmckinney.blogspot.com. He has an MA in economics from the University of Oklahoma and is author of the book Financial Bull Riding.

Did FDR End the Great Depression?

After the stock market crash of 1929, the U.S., along with the rest of the world, was thrown into economic crisis. Millions were out of work – homeless and helpless, standing in long bread lines. And then, newly-elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave the country his famous New Deal and brought the Great Depression to an end. That’s what all the high school textbooks say. But is that what happened?

Did FDR’s New Deal turn around an otherwise hopeless economy?

Lee Ohanian, Professor of Economics at UCLA and consultant to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, sets the record straight in this week’s new PragerU video.

Watch it here:

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RELATED ARTICLE: FDR’s policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate

Homeland Security Uncovers Massive Immigration Failures

The devastating consequences for national security.

President Trump has been rightfully demanding that aliens who are citizens of countries that have an involvement with terrorism must undergo “extreme vetting.”

This is certainly an important and commonsense requirement. However, the computer systems used by both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) inside the United States are unable to provide CBP inspectors at ports of entry the data they need to prevent transnational criminals and international terrorists from entering the country. Nor can these systems provide the vital information and records to USCIS adjudications officers that would allow them to prevent aliens present in the United States from improperly acquiring immigration benefits such as political asylum, lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.

Simply stated, today — more than 16 years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 — the effective vetting of any alien seeking entry into the United States or for any alien seeking immigration benefits has been elusive goals.

The September 28, 2017 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General’s (DHS OIG) report, “CBP’s IT Systems and Infrastructure Did Not Fully Support Border Security Operations,” noted:

CBP’s IT systems and infrastructure did not fully support its border security objective of preventing the entry of inadmissible aliens to the country. The slow performance of a critical pre-screening system greatly reduced Office of Field Operations officers’ ability to identify any passengers who may represent concerns, including national security threats. Further, incoming passenger screening at U.S. international airports was hampered by frequent system outages that created passenger delays and public safety risks. The outages required that CBP officers rely on backup systems that weakened the screening process, leading to officers potentially being unable to identify travelers that may be attempting to enter the United States with harmful intent.

On September 25, 2017, a report was published by DHS OIG on the distressing issue of individuals with multiple identities in US fingerprint enrollment records receiving immigration benefits. This disastrous situation has profound national security and public safety implications. Yet the report stated in part:

As of April 24, 2017, 9,389 aliens USCIS identified as having multiple identities had received an immigration benefit. When taking into account the most current immigration benefit these aliens received, we determined that naturalization, permanent residence, work authorization, and temporary protected status represent the greatest number of benefits, accounting for 8,447 or 90 percent of the 9,389 cases. Benefits approved by USCIS for the other 10 percent of cases, but not discussed in this report, include applications for asylum and travel documents. According to USCIS, receiving a deportation order or having used another identity does not necessarily render an individual ineligible for immigration benefits.

That last sentence should give us all serious cause for pause.

Apparently the “get to yes” philosophy of the Obama administration still permeates management at USCIS where adjudications officers were ordered to do whatever they had to do in order to approve virtually all applications for various immigration benefits.

We will, a bit later on, take a look back at how the Obama administration dismantled a program that sought to uncover immigration fraud and imbue the immigration benefits program with integrity.

But let’s first consider some additional facts.

The official report 9/11 and  Terrorist Travel was issued well over a decade ago and focused specifically on the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world, enter the United States and ultimately embed themselves in the U.S. as they went about their deadly preparations to carry out an attack.

The report noted:

Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.

Under the title “Immigration Benefits” the following paragraph on page 98 of the same report states that

[t]errorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

These multiple serious failures of the immigration system today are hardly new.

Roughly one year ago a disturbing DHS/OIG Report prompted me to write an article about Weaponized Immigration. I focused on the fact that 858 aliens who had been ordered deported were improperly granted United States citizenship through the process of naturalization due to the fact hat their fingerprints were not on file because they were not properly uploaded when INS, the predecessor agency to DHS, digitized these fingerprints.

As bad as that was, that report went on to state:

Later, ICE identified missing fingerprint records for about 315,000 aliens who had final deportation orders or who were criminals or fugitives, but it has not yet reviewed about 148,000 aliens’ files to try to retrieve and digitize the old fingerprint cards.

The report noted that in 2010 a program known as “Operation Janus” was created to identify aliens who may have committed immigration fraud, yet the report documented that in the final months of the Obama administration, inexplicably, the Operation Janus working group was disbanded, stymieing efforts to identify aliens who had committed naturalization fraud and thereby seriously undermining national security.

While it was in operation, the working group of Operation Janus identified wrongly naturalized aliens who had been able to parlay their U.S. citizenship into sensitive jobs at airports and seaports and at least one of these individuals became a law enforcement officer.  Consequently, appropriate actions were taken to denaturalize some of these individuals and seek criminal prosecutions, although only a small percentage of these aliens were dealt with effectively.

What was even more disconcerting was that some of these aliens were citizens of “Special Interest Countries,” that is to say, countries that are associated with possible terrorist links.

Nevertheless, consider how many politicians from both political parties are determined to provide lawful status to unknown tens of millions of illegal aliens whose true identities are unknown and unknowable. These politicians all know that the immigration bureaucracy is unable to effectively deal with its current workload. Any massive legalization program would cause this already failing system to implode.

We must also consider how many cities and states have declared themselves to be “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens who entered the United States surreptitiously or who may have lost their lawful status because of the serious crimes that they committed.  These jurisdictions have become magnets for foreign criminals and terrorists and undermine national security and public safety.

The immigration system lacks meaningful integrity while the Damoclean Sword of terrorism hangs above our heads each and every day.  Every year thousands of innocent victims lose their lives to criminal aliens, yet the immigration anarchists and their allies in the media castigate anyone who would dare suggest that the United States must act to secure its borders and enforce its immigration laws, branding them xenophobes, racists and haters.

Suicide is not an act of compassion.  All of the failing and dysfunctional elements of the immigration system must be repaired as swiftly as possible — not as a prerequisite for any additional action, but simply as ends unto themselves.  The potential for massive losses of life should provide the clear imperative for getting the job done- for once and for all.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on FrontPage Magazine.

The Humanitarian Hoax of Gun Control: Killing America With Kindness

The Humanitarian Hoax is a deliberate and deceitful tactic of presenting a destructive policy as altruistic. The humanitarian huckster presents himself as a compassionate advocate when in fact he is the disguised enemy.

Those who support gun control and those who oppose gun control are speaking two different languages.

The Second Amendment guaranteeing the people the right to bear arms was passed by Congress September 25, 1789 and ratified December 15, 1791. The American Revolution freed the colonists from British oppression and our Founding Fathers were determined to prevent future tyranny by their newly formed federal government. The federal government would be armed but so would the citizenry – it was a balance of power arrangement.

One hundred fifty years later Mao Tse-Tung speaking in front of the Central Committee of the Communist Party famously declared:

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Mao is telling the Communist Party leaders that armed struggle is necessary to acquire political power. “Whoever wants to seize and retain state power must have a strong army. Yes, we are advocates of the omnipotence of revolutionary war; that is good, not bad, it is Marxist. The guns of the Russian Communist Party created socialism. We shall create a democratic republic. Experience in the class struggle in the era of imperialism teaches us that it is only by the power of the gun that the working class and the labouring masses can defeat the armed bourgeoisie and landlords; in this sense we may say that only with guns can the whole world be transformed. We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

Mao Tse-Tung was a communist revolutionary seeking to overthrow the established rule of the nationalist Republic of China. He advocated arming his supporters (proletariat) against the opposition (the bourgeoisie). Mao was successful and the communist People’s Republic of China took power in 1949.

So, guns have been used to both take power from those who have power (Mao) and also to balance the power of the federal government (Second Amendment). These are the two languages of gun control.

The left-wing radical humanitarian hucksters of gun control also know that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. They are disingenuously selling gun control as the altruistic answer to gun violence but in reality they seek to eliminate the Second Amendment and disarm its supporters. Why?

The Second Amendment right to bear arms gives citizens the right to defend and protect themselves against the tyranny of the armed federal government. The Founding Fathers envisioned an independent America with a strong federal government restrained by a three-part checks and balances structure and insured by the Second Amendment. Leftists today envision a Maoist public completely dependent (Marxism/Socialism/Communism) upon the federal government and completely controlled by the federal government. The Leftist dream requires dissolution of the Second Amendment.

Gun control is being disingenuously marketed as the solution to gun violence. The fiction of the gun control narrative is that gun control will keep Americans safe from the gun violence that has terrorized the country. Here is the problem. Chicago, with its strict gun control laws is a record-setter in homicides. Almost everyone killed in Chicago was shot to death. So how did gun control stop the gun violence in Chicago? It didn’t. Criminals find access to guns.

The horrifying and increasingly suspicious October 2nd massacre of innocent concertgoers in Las Vegas immediately and predictably triggered emotional calls from the Left for gun control. Gun control enthusiasts focus on terrorism, mass shootings, and police related shootings. A recent study examining the 33,000 annual fatal shootings in America today shows that a very small percentage involve mass murder attacks. Almost 2/3 of the deaths are suicides, another 1/3 are homicides, and the rest are considered accidents.

A person committing suicide could take pills or jump of a building. A person committing homicide could use a knife or a hammer. A person committing mass murder could use poison. How would gun control affect the outcome of death in America? It wouldn’t. So, why does the Left consistently focus on gun control? Because gun control is the argument that seeks to disarm the American public and dissolve the Second Amendment.

The left-wing liberal Democrat Party is speaking Mao’s Marxist/Communist/Socialist language. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

The Humanitarian Hoax of gun control presents restricting/eliminating the Second Amendment as the altruistic solution to gun violence but is really a sinister attempt to disarm the American public. Disarming America awards total control of the people to the federal government which is specifically why our Founding Fathers ratified the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is the fulcrum of American freedom and those who defend it are speaking the language of American independence.

If the Left succeeds then 241 years of American freedom will be lost because a willfully blind American public was seduced by the Humanitarian Hoax of gun control advanced by leftist humanitarian hucksters promising safety to a public too frightened to live in reality. The Humanitarian Hoax of gun control will have succeeded in killing America with “kindness.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Goudsmit Pundicity.