Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story by Daniel J. Mitchell

Every so often, I run across a chart, cartoon, or story that captures the essence of an issue. And when that happens, I make it part of my “everything you need to know” series.

I don’t actually think those columns tell us everything we need to know, of course, but they do show something very important. At least I hope.

And now, from our (normally) semi-rational northern neighbor, I have a new example.

This story from Toronto truly is a powerful example of the difference between government action and private action.

A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. 
Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. …Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year.

There are actually two profound lessons to learn from this story.

Since I’m a fiscal wonk, the part that grabbed my attention was the $550 cost of private action compared to $65,000 for government. Or maybe $150,000. Heck, probably more considering government cost overruns.

Though we’re not actually talking about government action. God only knows how long it would have taken the bureaucracy to complete this task. So this is a story of inexpensive private action vs. costly government inaction.

But there’s another part of this story that also caught my eye. The bureaucracy is responding with spite.

The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards…City bylaw officers have taped off the stairs while officials make a decision on what to do with it. …Mayor John Tory…says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves. …“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”

But there is a silver lining. With infinite mercy, the government isn’t going to throw Mr. Astl in jail or make him pay a fine. At least not yet.

Astl has not been charged with any sort of violation.

Gee, how nice and thoughtful.

One woman has drawn the appropriate conclusion from this episode.

Area resident Dana Beamon told CTV Toronto she’s happy to have the stairs there, whether or not they are up to city standards. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” she said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”

Which is the lesson I think everybody should take away. Private initiative works much faster and much cheaper than government.

P.S. Let’s also call this an example of super-federalism, or super-decentralization. Imagine how expensive it would have been for the national government in Ottawa to build the stairs? Or how long it would have taken? Probably millions of dollars and a couple of years.

Now imagine how costly and time-consuming it would have been if the Ontario provincial government was in charge? Perhaps not as bad, but still very expensive and time-consuming.

And we already know the cost (and inaction) of the city government. Reminds me of the $1 million bus stop in Arlington, VA.

But when actual users of the park take responsibility (both in terms of action and money), the stairs were built quickly and efficiently.

In other words, let’s have decentralization. But the most radical federalism is when private action replaces government.

Reprinted from International Liberty

Editors Note: Since this article was originally published, the local government tore down Astl’s $500 stairs, citing “safety standards,” and plans to replace it with a $10,000 set.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This is How You Make Health Care Affordable by Jay Bowen

As the debate continues to rage in Washington, D.C., and around the country regarding the fate of Obamacare, one elegantly simple concept that would have a dramatic impact on healthcare costs is being drowned out by inflammatory rhetoric.

The One Area of Health Care That’s Defying Massive Inflation

Out-of-pocket payment (OPP) by consumers for routine medical care would transform the system from one dominated by third party payers toward a model that would put consumers in charge of their healthcare dollars, and for the first time unleash market disciplines into the equation.

After all, we can all only imagine what our grocery carts would look like, not to mention our restaurant tabs, if a third party was paying for our food. Unfortunately, out-of-pocket payments have steadily trended down over the last 60 years and now account for only 10.5% of healthcare expenditures.

It is both stunning and disconcerting that the myriad of benefits that flow from a competitive, market driven system have never, in any substantial way, penetrated the healthcare and medical services arena. However, one striking exception to this competitive wet blanket is the $15 billion cosmetic surgery industry, the poster child for out of pocket payments, where innovation and price disinflation have been hallmarks for decades. Examples abound.

As Mark Perry has pointed out on his brilliant economic blog, Carpe Diem, over the past 19 years, the 20 most popular cosmetic procedures have increased at a rate 32% below the consumer price index (CPI) and 68% below the rate of medical services inflation.

Thus, the backbone of a productive reform plan must include a move away from third parties and employers controlling health care dollars toward individuals holding sway over their medical purse strings.

Removing Constraints

This would mean that the “employer contribution” that currently is used to fund corporate group policies would transition to an increase in an employee’s compensation, which would be funneled tax-free into a robust health savings account (HSA) that the employee would control for routine medical expenses.

As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute has pointed out, “The employer contribution for health care is part of a worker’s earnings and averages $13,000 per family. Yet the tax code gives control over that money to employers rather than the workers who earned it.”

Importantly, this HSA would be paired with a high-deductible catastrophic policy and also be valid in the individual marketplace. Additionally, this would go a long way in helping to solve the portability issue that some employees face when changing jobs or careers.Essential to making these individual plans more attractive and affordable would be the abolition of both the “community rating” and “essential health benefits” mandates currently embedded in Obamacare policies. These concepts make a mockery of a legitimate, actuarially sound insurance market by shifting costs from older and sicker people to younger and healthier people, thus promoting adverse selection.

Without these constraints, families could focus on basic and affordable policies that would better match their needs and also begin building a “rainy day health fund” via their HSA accounts.

Regarding both Medicaid and pre-existing conditions, a strong dose of old fashioned, Tenth Amendment-oriented federalism is long overdue in dealing with these issues.

In fact, both from a philosophical and practical standpoint, they should never have come under the purview of the federal government and are best left to the individual states where diverse, vibrant, and innovative solutions could be implemented. This could include the establishment of reinsurance programs and high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions, and the phasing out of the open-ended federal entitlement status of Medicaid through a multi-year block grant program.

A Patient-Centered System

The current third party payment/community rating model for delivering healthcare is unsustainable and rapidly headed for the dreaded “death spiral,” which occurs when an escalation of sick people flock to the exchanges for insurance, while an increasing number of healthy people choose to leave the market. In fact, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has recently acknowledged as much.

Make no mistake, Obamacare was designed to invariably lead to a government-run, single-payer model, with its global budgeting, rationing of care, and long wait times for vital procedures in tow.

Without swift and decisive intervention with a system based on patient-centered choice and market mechanisms, the end result will be a Veterans Affairs (VA)-like model that would combine the worst aspects of government inefficiencies and substandard care.

A quick glance at the dismal state of Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Canada’s single payer scheme, or our own insolvent Medicare and Medicaid plans provides Americans with an acutely unpleasant hint of what is in store if a single-payer model does indeed transpire.

Jay Bowen

Jay Bowen

Mr. Bowen joined Bowen, Hanes & Company, Inc. in 1986. As the firm’s Chief Investment Officer and economic strategist, Mr. Bowen is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the firm’s economic and investment strategies.

Steve Jobs Wanted to Break Up the Education Monopoly by Joe Kent

Steve Jobs said in a 1995 interview, “The unions are the worst thing that ever happened in education.”

Jobs spoke with Computerworld’s Daniel Morrow in a 1995 interview, which covered a wide range of topics, but frequently delved into Jobs’s views on the American education system. As he said, “I’d like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for making $100,000 a year.”

“Schools are not a meritocracy. They’re a bureaucracy.”

But Jobs blamed teachers unions for getting in the way of good teachers getting better pay. “It’s not a meritocracy,” said Jobs. “It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what’s happened. And teachers can’t teach, and administrators run the place, and nobody can be fired. It’s terrible.”He noted that one solution is school choice: “I’ve been a very strong believer that what we need to do in education is go to the full voucher system.” Jobs explained that education in America had been taken over by a government monopoly, which was providing a poor quality education for children.

He referenced the government-created phone monopoly, broken up in 1982: “I remember seeing a bumper sticker with the Bell logo on it and it said, ‘We don’t care, we don’t have to.’ That’s certainly what the public school system is. They don’t have to care.”

Jobs said that one way to open up a free market in education would be to offer a voucher to families. He gave an example of the California public school system, which in 1995 spent $4,400 per pupil: “I believe strongly that if the country gave each parent a voucher – a check for $4,400 that they could only spend at any accredited school – that several things would happen.”

First, “Schools would start marketing themselves like crazy to parents, to get students.”

Second, many new schools would begin popping up. “You could have 25-year-old kids out of college – very idealistic, full of energy – instead of starting a Silicon Valley company, they would start a school, and I believe they would do far better than many of our public school teachers do.”

“A lot of competition forces providers to get better and better.”

Finally, the quality of education would rise in a competitive market: “A lot of schools would go broke, there’s no question about it. It would be rather painful for the first several years, but I think far less painful than the kids going through the system as it is right now.”Jobs said that the main complaint against school choice is that schools would cater only to rich kids, and the poor kids would be “left to wallow together.”

However, he said, “that’s like saying, well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody’s going to make a $10,000 car. Well, I think the most hotly competitive market right now is the $10,000 car.”

In other words, Jobs said, all students would benefit from more school choice, as the monopoly in education was broken up.

“The market competition model seems to indicate that where there is a need, there is a lot of providers willing to tailor their products to fit that need, and a lot of competition which keeps forcing them to get better and better.”

Joe Kent

Joe Kent

Joe Kent is the Vice President of Research at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a free market think tank. Joe previously worked as a public school teacher for eight years, both in Hawaii and in Minnesota.

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President Trump cuts number of bureaucrats attending UN annual event saving taxpayer dollars

The United Nations holds its fall general assembly in September.  This is when ‘diplomats’ from all over the world come to New York for really what amounts to one big party on the town.

Here we learn that to save money, the Trump Administration will be limiting the number of State Department and other DC bureaucrats who will be attending the confab on the taxpayers’ dime.It is also a time when the UN has an opportunity to bash America (except for when Obama was prezsident).

Not mentioned here, but just a reminder to readers, September will be the time of  Trump’s big test on the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program because according to the Kennedy/Carter Refugee Act of 1980, the President submits his annual ‘determination’ for the upcoming fiscal year to Congress.

Just about the time Trump speaks to the UN, he will have determined how many refugees will be admitted in the year beginning October 1 for FY18, and from what regions of the world they will come.

From AP at the Democrat Gazette:

The State Department plans to scale back its diplomatic presence at this year’s annual United Nations gathering of world leaders in September as a cost-saving initiative, according to four well-placed diplomatic sources. [Those leakers again?—ed]

For more than seven decades, American presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have attended the fall U.N. General Assembly general debate in New York to project their vision of American foreign policy to the world. They have been accompanied by a growing entourage of American diplomats, lawyers and technical experts who negotiate a wide range of issues, from nuclear arms treaties to climate change pacts and conflicts.

But the ranks of professional diplomats, aides and officials who attend the event to promote American policy priorities on a range of issues will be thinned out. For now, it remains unclear precisely how large of a cut in U.S. staff is envisioned, but two officials said the State Department is seeking to keep a ceiling down to about 300 people, including everyone from the president to support staff who schedule meetings and copy speeches.President Donald Trump does plan to address other world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, and he will be accompanied by other top advisers, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who stopped by U.N. headquarters Friday for a private lunch with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

[….]

The diplomatic culling is being enforced by Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief who has shown little interest in U.N. diplomacy during his first six months on the job. It comes at a time when the White House is seeking as much as a 30 percent cut in U.S. funding to the State Department and even deeper cuts in U.N. operations.

More here.

Will Donald Trump seek to cut the State Department budget by 30%? Will he cut even deeper in to the pile of money we give the UN? And, will he cut refugee numbers and seek to abolish or reform the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program? 

Answers will come in September!

Your job is to let the President know what you think on a daily basis!  Click here.

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Australia welcoming Syrian Christian refugees….

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7 Republicans voted to keep Obamacare — what they said then and did now

Seven Republican senators voted against Obamacare repeal this week after previously pledging to support it. Here’s a list of the seven senators along with their previous quotes supporting repeal.

Please help us replace them with true conservative leaders by making a contribution to the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Here are the seven Republicans who voted to keep Obamacare

LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK)

THEN“This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

DEAN HELLER (R-NV)

THEN“The repeal of this law will not only reduce federal spending, but it will also allow Congress to address problems within the current health care system.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV)

THEN“I have consistently voted to repeal and replace this disastrous health care law, and I am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the president’s desk.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN)

THEN“Obamacare was an historic mistake, and should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step reforms that transform the health care delivery system.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME)

THEN“I believe that we made – that Congress made – a real error in passing Obamacare, we should repeal the law so that we can start over.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ)

THEN“It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

ROB PORTMAN (R-OH)

THEN“[Obamacare] is fundamentally flawed. I do think we ought to delay … and then we’ve got to repeal this thing and start over.”
NOW: Voted Against Repeal

RELATED ARTICLE: John McCain and the Swamp – 1, the American people – 0

EDITORS NOTE: This column is based upon information provided by the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Dear White House: Refugee Resettlement. It isn’t just about the numbers!

I’m sorry to keep repeating myself, but this whole refugee controversy has devolved in to a discussion about two issues—the number of refugees we admit and security screening.

What happened to the idea that communities would be informed about refugees arriving in their neighborhoods? What happened to any discussion about the enormous costs of resettling refugees with little education who will be dependent on welfare most likely for life even as they take jobs from low-skilled Americans? What happened to any discussion about massive cultural disruption in some locations? What happened to any discussion about the fact that health screening of refugees seems virtually non-existent with cases of TB and HIV Aids stressing local health departments?

In short, what happened to any discussion about dumping or reforming the whole UN/US Refugee Admissions Program? Or, getting rid of the contractor middlemen***?

Are we simply going to battle over numbers? 

Sure sounds like it!

I’m told I should be heartened by the news that someone in the  White House (Stephen Miller) will be the point man on refugees, but really, can we expect Anthony Scaramucci to peg him as a f****** racist tomorrow? (If Scaramucci is crazy enough to say something about Miller like that, Trump can forget about his base!).

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC) is taking the lead on a decision about how many refugees to admit to the United States next year, two current and three former officials said, a move that may empower those who wish to reduce immigration. [Who are Reuters sources—the leakers in Tillerson’s State Department and its hangers-on?—ed]

The council, which reports to U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser for policy Stephen Miller, an architect of Trump’s initial travel ban, is adopting a role traditionally handled by National Security Council and State Department officials.

The shift may strengthen the hand of officials who, like Trump himself, wish to cut the number of refugees resettled in the United States, against foreign policy experts who view the issue through an international humanitarian lens and say taking them in is vital to getting others to keep their borders open.

The bureaucratic maneuver appears to be part of a wider Washington fight over steps that the Trump administration has taken to limit immigration to the United States.

Continue reading, there is lots more.

Again, if we see simply a slight reduction in the number of refugees to be admitted in FY18 (Trump will announce in September), and no effort to tell Congress to reform the monstrosity—Ted Kennedy’s Refugee Act of 1980—Trump will have (hugely) let us down.

***Federal contractors/middlemen/propagandists/lobbyists/community organizers paid by you to place refugees in your towns and cities.  Under the nine major contractors are hundreds of subcontractors.  Every week representatives of the nine meet with DOS officials and literally divvy up the refugee dossiers deciding where in 49 states (WY takes zero!) they will be (without your knowledge) placed.

The contractors income is largely dependent on taxpayer dollars based on the number of refugees admitted to the US. Those Aussie rejects (I told you about here yesterday) come with a dollar value to the contractor and they have no obligation to tell community leaders/police who they are placing in US towns and cities.

The only way for real reform of how the US admits refugees is to remove the contractors/propagandists/community organizers from the process.

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Winooski, Vermont: Somali boy drowns, police criticized for poor communication with family

Can’t say it often enough: UN supports mass migration going on worldwide

Two US refugee Islamic terrorists, caught earlier, are back in the news

Catholic Bishops & Lutherans lament not enough U.S. taxpayer funded refugees coming in to pay their bills

No of course they didn’t say it that way, but that is what they mean.  Instead, once again, it is about the poor refugees left in the lurch in some third world hell hole because of that meany Donald J. Trump.

This is a broken record alert, but I plan to continue to pound the issue of payment to contractors being tied to the number of refugees admitted, so there is never a reasonable discussion about any slowdown or reform of the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program.

If they were paying for their Christian ‘charity’ out of the pockets of good and kind-hearted parishioners, I would have nothing to say. But, until the USCCB admits to the media that they receive 97% of their annual migration fund budget (about $83 million in 2014) from taxpayers, I will be a broken record on the issue.

It was only six days ago I did a new accounting report for the nine federal refugee contractors*** quasi-government agencies that monopolize all resettlement in the US.

Both the Bishops and the Lutheran contractor are 96-97% funded by US taxpayers!

You will never know that by reading this news.  Indeed, Charity Navigator, a service that rates charities to help you decide if you want to give, said this about LIRS (they would have said the same about the USCCB except that outfit doesn’t file a Form 990, that we can find).

This organization is not eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator because, as a service for individual givers, we only rate organizations that depend on support from individual contributors and foundations. Organizations such as this, that get most of their revenue from the government or from program services, are therefore not eligible to be rated.

In this story from Crux (a Catholic publication) we learn that Catholics and Lutherans are #1 and #2 in the number of refugees they drop off in American towns and cities.

Here is Crux (lamentations):

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid a federal judge ordering the government to broaden the exemptions to the immigration travel ban partially upheld by the Supreme Court, Catholic and Lutheran leaders lamented that the immigration cap had been reached for refugees without such exemptions for the 2017 fiscal year.

The federal government suspended travel July 12 for refugee immigrants without close family connections after confirming that 50,000 refugees – the limit imposed by President Donald Trump in a March 6 executive order – had arrived on U.S. soil.

“We remain deeply troubled by the human consequences of the revised executive order on refugee admissions and the travel ban,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, in a July 13 statement.

“Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation,” Vasquez added. “We have the ability to continue to assist the most vulnerable among us without sacrificing our values as Americans or the safety and security of our nation.” [Be sure to see my post on the ceilings going back 30 years, here.  Note that Obama got no where near 110,000 until he was virtually walking out the door, now that has become the standard measure!—ed]

William Canny, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

“The pause on resettlement and restrictions on the number of persons who can enter our country as refugees will have an immediate effect on our ability to conduct the lifesaving work of providing safety and protection,” said a July 12 statement by Kay Bellor, vice president for programs of Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service, which is second only to the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services in the number of refugees it helps resettle in the United States.  [Yes, it will have an immediate effect because your organization raised virtually NO PRIVATE MONEY!—ed]

[….]

“As Bishop Vasquez said, it’s very sad, deeply troubling,” MRS executive director William Canny told Catholic News Service July 14.

Pushing for 75,000 refugees in FY18!

At least they have tempered the demand for 200,000 they made of Obama for his last year. If Trump admits 75,000 he will be about 10,000 above the average admissions for the last ten years (which included their dear leader’s years).

Crux continues….

“What we’re advocating for is 75,000” refugees to come into the United States during fiscal 2018, Canny told CNS. “We understand that the administration has security concerns. The administration made some initiative to reduce the number of refugees coming into the country. We don’t agree with it, so at a minimum, we think we should be bringing in 75,000.”

Bellor agreed with the 75,000 figure, noting the number is “less than the need.” Citing United Nations World Refugee Day figures, “the numbers are definitely not shrinking,” she said. “The number of people on the move is 66 million.”

LOL! 75,000 must be the point where they can keep their budgets plenty full with your money!

There is more at Cruxgo here to read it all.

Come on all of you (not just the Lutherans and the Catholics), admit that your ‘charitable’ work with refugees could not happen without a huge infusion of more than a half a billion $ a year in federal funding.

And, come on mainstream media, it is time you told the truth!

***Federal contractors/middlemen/lobbyists/community organizers paid by you to place refugees in your towns and cities.  Because their income is largely dependent on taxpayer dollars based on the number of refugees admitted to the US, the only way for real reform of how the US admits refugees is to remove the contractors from the process.

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Hawaiian rogue judge has until Tuesday to respond to Trump SCOTUS motion

Obamacare Is Dying. Let It. by John Tamny

The alleged failure of Republicans to repeal the misnamed Affordable Care Act (ACA) predictably has the conservative punditry up in arms. “Why Can’t Republicans Get Anything Done?” was one of many frustrated headlines lamenting the GOP’s lack of legislative success.The politics of repeal would have been worse than doing nothing.

One editorial asserted that Republican failure to ‘do something’ about the ACA “is one of the great political failures in recent U.S. history, and the damage will echo for years.” Really?

Implicit in all the conservative ranting about the need to repeal, or worse, fix the ACA, is that health care was a wholly unfettered, dynamic source of free-market driven innovation before President Obama was elected. Let’s try to be serious for a moment.

Letting Obamacare Fail

Repeal of the ACA would have been an impressive headline, but the short and long-term politics of repeal for Republicans would have been worse than doing nothing. That is so because expectations about a looming nirvana would have been created, only for health care to, at best, return to its less-than-stellar-self that existed before passage of the ACA in 2010.

Importantly, none of what’s been written so far should be construed as support for the ACA. It was foolish legislation, and evidence supporting the previous contention is that the ACA was already dying before our eyes. No surprise there. Legislation meant to give some Americans a lot for a little, with a lot taken from others in return for very little, was bound to fail.

The ACA was plainly imploding as the constant rush of insurance companies out of ACA exchanges revealed in bright colors. Why abolish what the laws of economics were already abolishing?The half-measures offered by Republicans were plainly worse than simply doing nothing.

And that’s why the half-measures offered by Republican compromisers were plainly worse than simply doing nothing. Why legislate away one central plan in return for an allegedly improved central plan; essentially exchanging bad legislation for bad legislation on top of what already wasn’t working before 2010? The politics of repeal or partial repeal spoke to the horror of Washington doing anything to legislate a right to what was and is a market good like any other.

Not discussed enough by either side is that it’s impossible to invent a right to a good or service of any kind to begin with. This is certainly true with regard to health care when we remember that it didn’t realistically exist until the 20th century. Lest we forget, in the 19th it was a death sentence if you were shot in the abdomen. If you broke your femur, you had 1 in 3 odds of dying. Broken hip? Dead. Cancer? Forget about it. You were going to die.

Legislation didn’t reverse the previously mentioned odds as much as trial and error in the area of healing led to healing advances such that a market eventually formed. The shame here is that politicians discovered health care in the first place. Imagine how much more advanced we’d be had they left what was advancing alone.

We Don’t Have a Crystal Ball

All of the above has seemingly been ignored by Republicans ever eager to prove they’re as compassionate as their reliably hysterical opponents on the other side of the aisle. And there lies the problem.

Much as health care didn’t broadly exist when the 20th century dawned, so were automobiles the microscopic exception to the horse rule. Imagine if politicians, sensing what few did about the car’s potential, had legislated broad access to what very few people owned. If so, it’s safe to say that the American automobile industry would never have taken shape, mainly because politicians can’t possibly divine what we want, let alone need. The car evolved into a common good thanks to relentless experimentation that occurred alongside a 99% percent failure rate for American car companies.

Thinking about the computer, while few could get by without one today, as late as 1943, IBM Chairman Tom Watson confidently asserted that the market for computers wouldn’t expand beyond five total computers. Decades later, and billions of dollars worth of failed companies later, the computer is the can’t-live-without rule, including the supercomputers that increasingly line the pockets of rich and poor alike.

At present, politicians in both major political parties are thinking about ways to spend trillions in tax dollars on enhanced roads, just as entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos are aggressively thinking of ways to deliver us goods and services by air, care of drones. Yet conservatives are comfortable allowing Republicans to add more laws to an already over-controlled health care market?

Despite the historical truth that the present rarely predicts the future of goods and services, politicians in both parties pretend that they know what the market for health care should look like. But how could they?

For Republicans and Democrats to legislate a right to medical services in the present is every bit as lame-brained as it would have been had they legislated access to specific kinds of cars, computers, and smartphones in 1900, 1950 and 2000. Whatever they would have dreamed up for all three would have been a fraction of what intrepid entrepreneurs divined through feverish trial and error.

What Is and What Will Be

Seemingly forgotten by Republicans is that legislation is the absolute worst way to solve any problem, real or imagined, particularly one involving goods and services created in the marketplace.

Lawmaking by definition deals with what is while thriving markets are all about sleuthing out what will be. We’ll only arrive at what will be in the health care space insofar as individuals and businesses are free to experiment without limits, yet Republicans and Democrats in their infinite confusion are trying to create rights for people with what already is.

Ok, but that’s cruel. It’s the hypothetical equivalent of politicians legislating access to the cars, computers, and smartphones of today at a time when all three were likely on the verge of rapid evolution. Health care is no different. If the goal is that everyone should have access to it, the only response from Congress should be that it will cease legislating access to what it can’t give, and more important, what it doesn’t understand. If so, watch health care markets evolve in amazing ways that redound to us all.

Reprinted from Real Clear Markets.

John Tamny

John Tamny

John Tamny is a Forbes contributor, editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior fellow in economics at Reason, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research & Trading. He’s the author of the 2016 book Who Needs the Fed? (Encounter), along with Popular Economics (Regnery Publishing, 2015).

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VIDEO: Taxes Are Killing Small Businesses

Did you know that the livelihood of 85 million Americans depends on the success of small businesses? So you’d think that the government would encourage the creation and preservation of small businesses. Instead, the federal government taxes small business owners at about 40% — not including additional state or local taxes. Watch this week’s video to find out the effect of that tax rate on small business owners, on job creation, and on the economy as a whole.

Our business and economics series is a collaborative project with Job Creators Network. To learn more about JCN, visit www.jobcreatorsnetwork.com.

TRANSCRIPT

No matter where you come from, what your job is, or where you stand politically, you have to pay taxes. Uncle Sam needs taxpayer dollars to pay for things like schools, fire fighters, and the military.

There are all sorts of different taxes: income taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes just to name a few. But individuals aren’t the only ones who pay taxes—businesses pay income taxes too.

Businesses that are set up as corporations pay taxes on their income at the US corporate tax rate of around 35 percent—one of the highest in the developed world. Countries like Ireland and Switzerland have corporate tax rates well under 25 percent, which can give companies based there a competitive advantage.

But there’s another taxed group that we’re forgetting…small businesses. There are 29 million of them in the US and they employ nearly 56 million people. That’s a total of 85 million people dependent on the success of small businesses!

Small businesses are most often set up as sole proprietorships, partnerships or another designation called an S-corp. But the money they make isn’t taxed at the corporate rate. The profits earned by these small businesses are “passed through” to the owner and counted as individual income on their personal tax return. That’s why you might hear small businesses referred to as “Pass-throughs.”

These entrepreneurs can pay tax rates as high as 40 percent not including additional state and local taxes, that means many American small businesses are being taxed at a higher rate than businesses anywhere in the world.

Why should you care? Because high taxes hurt small businesses ability to grow and expand, causing them to raise prices or even trim jobs to stay within their budget constraints.

Lowering taxes for small businesses or “pass-throughs” results in the growth of small businesses—allowing them to provide more jobs and boost the economy for everyone. After all two thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses and lowering taxes can have a big effect on the entire economy for all Americans.

So the next time you hear someone supporting an increase in tax rates on businesses, remember that very important group of small business owners and the 85 million people dependent on their success.

The Walmart Guy vs Anti-Capitalism Millennials

Though we have never met, I smiled recently seeing my favorite Walmart employee. For over ten years, I witnessed him gathering shopping carts in the parking lot. He is a white millennial who only has the use of one arm, walks with a severe limp and appears slightly mentally challenged. I once saw him leaving work driving a new looking compact car. My wife Mary prepared his taxes when she worked for a tax preparation company. I thought, “Hey, this brother has got it goin’ on — doin’ his thing.”

The Walmart guy could easily qualify for disability; sit home on his butt allowing taxpayers to take care of him. Far too many able-bodied millennials feel entitled, believing government should provide them free everything.

The Walmart guy’s work-ethic, self-reliance and pride in earning his own way is truly refreshing. The Obama Administration practically begged Americans, even non-citizens, to get on food stamps and to apply for as many government freebies as possible. This addicts voters to government handouts and keeps them voting for their Democrat dealers. Disability claims skyrocketed under Obama.

Disturbingly, polls say a majority of millennials reject Capitalism. They believe Socialism is fair and compassionate and Capitalism is selfish and cruel. This explains “yutes” hero worship of socialist/democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Millennials love Sanders’ promise to take the hard earned wealth of achievers to redistribute to lazy pot-smoking losers. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Socialism always ends up spreading mediocrity and misery equally among the masses while the rulers live high on the hog. Have you noticed that Hollywood Leftists and socialist politicians want government to force us to drive tiny tin-can cars, surrender our guns and lower our carbon footprint? Meanwhile, they travel in gas-guzzling limos and private jets with armed guards.

Capitalism gives everyone a shot at achieving their American dream. I will slap the next fellow black person who whines to me about how whitey has stacked the deck again us. Capitalism birthed America’s first female millionaire, a black woman born in 1867. Madam C. J. Walker was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Socialism would have enslaved Madam Walker to the government system, giving her just enough free stuff to get by. Okay, I promise not to slap anyone.

It was depressing hearing it reported that a large number of Americans support taxing income over a million dollars at 100%. First of all, confiscating that money would generate around $616 billion which only covers a third of our annual deficit.

But what is most troubling is the disgusting class envy loser mindset of those who believe it is right for government to take people’s hard earned money. They do not realize that such financial tyranny would kill jobs and the incentive to be all one can be. How dare government place limits on success. Such thinking is un-American, counter to our God inspired founding.

We allowed Leftists’ silent-coup-takeover of public education decades ago. Consequently, Leftists have produced an army of stealth Leftist sleeper-cell operatives against their parents. Remember when Leftists instructed kids to steal their parent’s guns and turn them in to their teachers? Remember Michele Obama instructing students to report politically incorrect speech at the dinner table?

Outrageously, white students are taught beginning in kindergarten that they were born racist. In essence, white students are taught to feel ashamed and hate themselves for their unfair white privilege. The Walmart guy is on Leftists’ excrement list simply for being a working class white male. It angers me envisioning Leftist bullies getting into the grill of my Walmart guy, scolding him about his evil white privilege.

Students support black college student’s demand for free tuition and housing.

Black students also expect academic and behavioral standards lowered for them. I’m a 68 year old black man. I would be highly offended having standards lowered for me. Millennials quickly embrace Leftists twisting everything into evidence of unfairness and white American racism.

Years ago, a white friend shared that her son came home from middle-school in tears about how white men abused everyone; blacks, women, native Americans and so on. Today her son is an America hating Communist who still believes European white men are the greatest source of evil in the world.

Folks, we much turn this mess around regarding Leftists’ indoctrination of our kids. Trump appointing Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is a major step in the right direction. DeVos favors restoring power back to parents regarding the education of their children.

Oh, we’re out of milk. I’m confident I will see my Walmart guy diligently working.

VIDEO: Government Can’t Fix Healthcare

Why is the government so bad at health care? Why did Obamacare make health insurance costs go up, and access to medical services go down? The short answer, as six-term Congressman Bob McEwen explains, is that when bureaucrats and politicians spend other people’s money for services they won’t themselves consume, only bad things happen. Watch our new video to understand why.

Tomorrow, we’re releasing a very special feature-length video with Dennis. Click here to receive a text message when we post the video. You won’t want to miss this.

The world has gone morally insane and your tax dollars are paying for it!

I am sitting here stunned. Late last week, Congress voted on an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would have barred the use of taxpayer dollars for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone therapy for transgender members of the military.  Unfortunately, with the defection of 24 Republicans in the US House, the initiative failed and there is nothing to prevent the Obama-era policy from moving forward.

I believe that gender dysphoria (the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex) can be very painful for the individual with the condition. However, helping that person to ignore reality and basic biology and assisting them in harming their otherwise healthy body with medical treatments is not the answer. We certainly shouldn’t be using public funding to pay for those treatments!  In fact, Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.  As a nation, we shouldn’t be promoting gender transition and the denial of biological reality, we should be helping those individuals struggling by getting them counseling.

Just over half (14 of 27) of Florida’s Congressional delegation voted against the amendment to bar funding for gender transition treatments, with the exception of mental health counseling. Especially disappointing are the three Florida Republicans who voted against the amendment in defiance of conservative principles.  FFPC reached out to each of those three Republican offices and asked them to vote yes on Hartzler’s amendment and ensure that you and I aren’t paying for treatments we believe to be fundamentally wrong.   Below is a list of every member who voted to allow the use of your tax dollars to pay for service members’ gender transition:

Congressman’s Name Party District
Al Lawson D 5
Stephanie Murphy D 7
Darren Soto D 9
Val Demings D 10
Charlie Crist D 13
Kathy Castor D 14
Brian Mast* R 18
Alcee Hastings D 20
Lois Frankel D 21
Ted Deutch D 22
Debbie Wasserman Schultz D 23
Frederica Wilson D 24
Carlos Curbelo R 26
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R 27
*Rep. Brian Mast asked that his vote be changed after
the fact due to a mistake in voting

Already the Army is instructing women soldiers to accept sharing public showers, restrooms, and barracks with transgenders, including men who call themselves “women” yet remain fully anatomically male. This is absolutely outrageous!  Now, we are going to further perpetuate the myth that one can change one’s gender by paying for gender transition treatment.

This issue is only going become more prominent in Florida and cities throughout our state in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, so we all need to educate ourselves.  For that purpose, I’m including some resources on transgenderism:

Florida Family Policy Council is committed to continuing to educate individuals on the transgender issue and to fight for common-sense public policy, but we need your help!

If conservative principles and being aware of this kind of information is important to you, please consider giving a gift today. Your gift will help us continue our work throughout the state of Florida and ensure that our shared values are being heard in the public square.  You can donate by clicking this link.

Thank you for your prayers and support as Florida Family Policy Council works to build a state and a nation where God is honored, life is cherished, families thrive, and religious liberty flourishes.

RELATED ARTICLE: As a Teen Cashier Seeing Food Stamp Use, I Changed My Mind About the Democrat Party

The Real Reason Government Wastes So Much Money by Daniel J. Mitchell

Why does government waste so much money? In so many ways? With such reckless abandon?

I suppose I could answer with mockery and say it’s because they have lots of experience squandering our tax dollars.

But let’s seriously contemplate that question and explore one of the reasons for waste. Simply stated, government programs are a magnet for scammers.

Let’s look at three case studies.

Example #1: Fraud is an inherent part of the big entitlement programs. Kevin Williamson has some unseemly details in an article for National Review.

…you know where there’s a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse? Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. …Medicare and Medicaid together account for about $1 trillion in federal spending annually, and estimates suggest that $1 out of ever $10 of that spending is fraud. Some estimates go much higher. We do not have a very good idea of exactly how extensive fraud in the system is, because the federal government has put a fair amount of effort into not knowing.

And what does that mean? How does the government try not to know?

…the government’s approach long has been backward…investigators are asking whether a certain treatment was in fact appropriate for what ails Mrs. Jones, not whether Mrs. Jones exists.

In other words, bureaucrats basically accept all claims as legitimate and simply judge from afar whether the right medical service is provided for the listed ailment.

Even if the ailment is fictional. Or the patient is fake.

As one might imagine, that kind of sloppy approach, combined with programs that dispense hundreds of billions of dollars, is a magnet for professional crooks.

It’s the work of organized crime. As Sparrow points out, when there is a criminal case filed against one of these fraud artists, then billing in a particular category – some years ago, it was HIV fusion treatments – falls off steeply, by as much as 90 percent. The implication here is that fraudulent billing may make up the majority of Medicaid and Medicare spending in some categories. …organized-crime syndicates are being permitted to use our medical entitlements to loot the Treasury, and that not very much is being done about that, which suggests the possibility – only a possibility – that there is political collusion in this at some level.

By the way, Kevin may be on to something when he speculates about collusion.

We already know about examples of politicians intervening to protect fraudsters

(who, conveniently, also happen to be campaign donors).

So is it really that much of a stretch to imagine them turning a blind eye (or worse) to industrial-level fraud by criminal enterprises?

Leads me to think this cartoon makes an unnecessary distinction.

Example #2: Welfare programs also are a magnet for fraud.

Here are excerpts from a recent news report.

Another six Lakewood, New Jersey couples were charged Wednesday with welfare fraud, bringing to 26 the number of people implicated since last week in the multimillion-dollar scandal. At the heart of the charges is the allegation that they all, in one way or another, failed to report or otherwise concealed significant income that would have made them ineligible for the assistance programs in which they enrolled. In total, state and federal prosecutors have said the families collected more than $2.4 million in benefits. …They allegedly obtained nearly $400,000 in Medicaid, food and heating benefits fraudulently. …Four other couples were arrested June 26 for allegedly defrauding public assistance programs of more than $1.3 million in benefits.

Welfare fraud must have been a major pastime for residents of the town.

Hundreds of these moochers are now trying to cover their tracks in hopes of avoiding legal trouble.

The specter of more charges has shaken Lakewood. Hundreds of residents have contacted authorities seeking amnesty or help avoiding arrest, the Asbury Park Press reported on June 29. In addition to the hundreds seeking amnesty, dozens more people have contacted social service agencies to cancel their benefits or declare income.

Example #3: And nobody should be surprised to learn that there’s plenty of fraud at the Pentagon.

Here’s an example that seems very representative.

The former owners of a Pittsburgh-area military supplier have been accused of defrauding the U.S. government of more than $6 million in defense contract work. …Prosecutors allege the Buckners inflated the cost of the work by falsifying invoices to make it appear as though they had spent $70 per window frame for the materials when in fact they had paid just $20 each for frames manufactured in China. The brothers are also alleged to have sold scrap aluminum collected in the manufacturing process without crediting that money to TACOM. The losses to TACOM are placed at $6,085,709 by the DOJ.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2014, a defense contractor responsible for providing food and water to troops in Afghanistan pleaded guilty to over-charging the U.S. government to the tune of $48 million. This week, two San Diego defense contractors pleaded guilty in a scheme that defrauded the Navy out of at least $1.4 million by over-billing for supplies that the military never ordered, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Similar stories have cropped up in Florida, California, Maryland, North Carolina and elsewhere in recent years, renewing calls for systemic reforms.

Maybe the reason fraud is so pervasive is that penalties are trivial or nonexistent.

A 2011 DOD report found hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military subsequently went on to receive more than $1.1 trillion in new Pentagon contracts between 2000 and 2010.

Shouldn’t criminal companies be barred from subsequent contracts? Shouldn’t crooked company officials be sent to prison?

Or do these things not happen because the same folks are also campaign contributors?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but surely something is amiss. It’s almost as if government is simply a racket for the benefit of insiders.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

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Refugee resettlement contractors 57% to 98% funded by U.S. taxpayers

I hadn’t checked the most recent data on how much of your money goes to the nine federal refugee resettlement contractors (aka VOLAGs) lately.  So here is the latest information I could find. I had to use several sources mostly because some contractors do not file a Form 990 (They claim they are churches and are thus exempt).

Unfortunately I couldn’t find all income information for all nine for the same year, so it is a little hard to make a direct comparison, but you get the idea.

These are the nine major federal resettlement contractors.  (Go here to see a data base with the hundreds of subcontractors working for them in a town near you.)

Church World Service (71% funded by taxpayers)

Church World Service as of June 2016 had a total revenue for the previous year of $88,455,527.

71.3% of their millions comes from you—the taxpayer—according to Charity Navigator, here. You are the source of government grants:

Their chief executive, Rev. John McCullough makes an annual salary of $251,224.

Ethiopian Community Development Council (93% funded by taxpayers)

ECDC is not rated at Charity Navigator so I had to use their most recent Form 990, see here.

(If you have trouble opening the Form 990, go here and then download the document.)

Their total revenue for the year ending September 30, 2014 was $17,448,992. You will see on page 9 that they received $16,290,580 in government grants making them 93% funded by you, the taxpayer.

ECDC’s President Tsehaye Teferra has income listed on page 7 in three columns. The first is direct compensation of $171,683 and the two other columns involve other  income from this organization and from “related” organizations of $57,857 and $46,843 (don’t ask me what that is!).

Episcopal Migration Ministries (aka Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church) (99.5% funded by taxpayers)

We know they are 99.5% funded by you because they admitted it here.  But, because their federal funds flow in to a church ‘kitty’ and because churches don’t file Form 990’s (or most churches don’t), we have no idea how much they are getting or what the program leaders are being paid.  Frankly, this is shameful!

If you are of the Episcopal faith, you need to start asking questions!

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (aka HIAS) (57% funded by taxpayers)

According to Charity Navigator for the year ending 12/2015, HIAS had a total revenue of $40,565,891.

Chief executive Mark Hetfield‘s annual salary in that report is $358,718.

International Rescue Committee (66.5% funded by taxpayers)

Be sure to focus on how much bigger the IRC is with an annual revenue of $688,920,920! From Charity Navigator:

66.5% is in the vicinity of $455 MILLION of your dollars annually!

Head honcho David Miliband hit the jackpot with this annual salary: $591,846!

US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (98% funded with taxpayer dollars)

USCRI is a little harder to figure out. Charity Navigator does not rate them for this reason:

This organization is not eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator because, as a service for individual givers, we only rate organizations that depend on support from individual contributors and foundations. Organizations such as this, that get most of their revenue from the government or from program services, are therefore not eligible to be rated.

You could say that USCRI is a quasi-government organization masquerading as a non-profit!

Lavinia Limon (left)

So we go to the most recent Form 990 available for year ending September 30, 2015.  (Or download PDF at ProPublica, here)

On page 9 you can see that they only take in less than $1 million of their $51,524,570 from private gifts and contributions. All of their “program income” is likely through taxpayer dollars as well.

President and CEO Lavinia Limon makes $260,258 in annual compensation plus pulls down another $42,231 from this and related organizations (whatever that is!).

NOTE: We have a lot on Lavinia Limon here at RRW. She was Bill Clinton’s director of the ORR!

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is 96-97% funded by taxpayers

Like USCRI it’s a little hard to figure out, from their recent Form 990 here where their total income is $55,983,615, exactly which of the fees in their income column actually are taxpayer dollars too.

We can assume there isn’t much private charity going to LIRS because Charity Navigator says the same thing they did for USCRI which is:

This organization is not eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator because, as a service for individual givers, we only rate organizations that depend on support from individual contributors and foundations. Organizations such as this, that get most of their revenue from the government or from program services, are therefore not eligible to be rated.

Hartke (blue jacket front row picture right) with refugee lobbyists last month.

Just a reminder that USCRI and LIRS are really quasi-government agencies yet they are busy lobbying Congress and otherwise community organizing in order to influence the media and Congress to support more refugees (aka paying clients!) coming to America.

LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke makes an annual salary of $274,632 and an additional $33,401 from this and related organizations (page 8).

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration Fund (97% taxpayer funded)

Now it gets even trickier! The Bishops don’t file a Form 990 and their operations are so vast, I could spend the whole day and still not sort it out.  Also, maybe you can find one, but I have not found an annual report for their refugee program since I found this one for 2014.

So we will have to rely on it (again). Keep in mind these funds for their refugee resettlement program do not include millions that go directly from the feds to some individual Catholic Charities and Dioceses around the US. (If you are researching your local CC or Dioceses, you can often find good numbers at USASpending.gov)

“Federal grants” is your money, so is the Travel Loan Collection Fees, so that puts the Bishops’ refugee resettlement program at 97% taxpayer funded.  (I am not sure if the Unaccompanied Alien Children fall in to yet another fund!).

I would like to get a more up-to-date accounting for the Bishops, but they must be hiding those reports really well!  I suspect they are pulling down even more payola in more recent years.

Obviously we don’t know what salaries are being paid for their Washington, DC lobbying shop. Their previous head lobbyist was Kevin Appleby.

World Relief (Corp. National Association of Evangelicals) is 72.8% funded by taxpayer dollars

That is according to Charity Navigatorhere.  Total revenue is $62,583,313 for the year ending September 30, 2015.  But, I did find a more recent Form 990here, with a huge jump in income in one year to $71,022,032.  I thought World Relief was broke and closing offices??? (Gives me an idea for another post and that is to report on some of the contractors increases in funding over several years).

That Form 990 shows something I hadn’t seen in other Form 990’s and that is that the Prez/CEO doesn’t make a whole lot, but some financial officer (Barry Howard) is making over $250,000 big ones (see pages 7 & 8).

Here is Charity Navigator’s “contributions” breakdown. Ha! Ha! your tax dollars for government grants are contributions!

Whew!  What a job searching for all that financial information! Hope you made it this far!

Can you see now why I say there will be no reform of the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program as long as these nine contractors, masquerading as charities, are sucking on the federal teat and bidding for bodies (aka refugee ‘clients’)?

And, adding insult to injury, they lobby, kiss up to the media, and community organize against you who are paying for the whole refugee racket!

None of these organizations would survive very long if Congress and the President cut them loose (or stated more kindly and so as not to mix metaphors!—weaned them!).

Your daily assignment! Write to the White House, here.

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