Did you know President Trump cancelled the pay increase of federal bureaucrats saving taxpayers $25 billion? Should their bloated salaries be cut?

Democrats are quick to point out “income inequality” in the private sector. But what about income inequality between the private sector and public sector?

Studies have found that the greatest income inequality is between government bureaucrats and private sector American workers. 

In the November 19, 2015 Wall Street Journal column “The Sweet Gig of Being a Bureaucrat” Mac Zimmerman wrote:

The average federal worker’s compensation is worth $119,934, nearly 80% higher than the average in the private economy.

A review of the nation’s capital turns up ample evidence: In a report released last month, Cato Institute budget analyst Chris Edwards calculated that the average federal employee earned $84,153 in 2014—roughly 50% more than the average worker in the private economy. When you include benefits like health care and pensions, the average federal worker’s compensation rises to $119,934—nearly 80% higher than everyone else. “The federal government has become an elite island of secure and high-paid employment,” Mr. Edwards wrote, “separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy.”

Zimmerman goes on to note:

Pay for federal employees has grown significantly faster than for private employees. The percentage difference between the two has doubled in the past 25 years. Federal work is more lucrative than the average jobs in finance, information and professional fields.

Moreover, the number of federal employees salaried at more than $100,000 has grown by nearly 10% in the past five years, to more than 300,000. The 1,000 best-paid federal workers make a minimum of $216,000, with most of the highest echelon working at Veterans Affairs. Employees of little-known agencies such as the National Credit Union Administration and the Farm Credit Administration also top the list.

The total cost to taxpayers of federal wages and benefits clocks in at $260 billion.

Fast forward to 2018 after Mr. Donald J. Trump came to Washington D.C. to “drain the swamp.”

Michael Busler in a column titled “Trump: Reducing federal spending by freezing bureaucrat costs” suggests that President Trump cut the salaries of all federal bureaucrats by 10%. Busler writes:

Trump announced that he was canceling the scheduled 2.1% across-the-board pay increase for federal workers, except for the underpaid military who will see a 2.6% increase in pay.  This will affect about 2.1 million federal workers.  Trump saw that the average federal employee costs the taxpayers almost $120,000 per year.

This should save the federal government about $25 billion.

Busler notes:

According to a study by the Cato Institute, federal government employees earn 50% more than their counterparts in the private sector.  When benefits are added in the differential jumps to 78%.

“In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets,” Trump wrote in a letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.

Busler concludes that cutting salaries of federal bureaucrats is both warranted and necessary. Busler writes, “Trump should consider a 10% salary reduction for all federal workers.  The fear is that the government may lose some valuable employees. But if they are currently earning 50% more than those in the private sector, the workers are still better off working for the government,  I doubt many would leave their jobs because of a 10% pay cut.”

Do you agree?

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 Key Points to Consider About Trump’s Federal Pay Decision

List of Trump Administration Accomplishments

If you missed it in the mainstream media here is the official list of Trump administration accomplishments listed on the White House website:

  • Almost 4 million jobs created since election.
  • More Americans are now employed than ever recorded before in our history.
  • We have created more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since my election.
  • Manufacturing jobs growing at the fastest rate in more than THREE DECADES.
  • Economic growth last quarter hit 4.2 percent.
  • New unemployment claims recently hit a 49-year low.
  • Median household income has hit highest level ever recorded.
  • African-American unemployment has recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded.
  • Hispanic-American unemployment is at the lowest rate ever recorded.
  • Asian-American unemployment recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded.
  • Women’s unemployment recently reached the lowest rate in 65 years.
  • Youth unemployment has recently hit the lowest rate in nearly half a century.
  • Lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for Americans without a high school diploma.
  • Under my Administration, veterans’ unemployment recently reached its lowest rate in nearly 20 years.
  • Almost 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps since the election.
  • The Pledge to America’s Workers has resulted in employers committing to train more than 4 million Americans. We are committed to VOCATIONAL education.
  • 95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future—the highest ever.
  • Retail sales surged last month, up another 6 percent over last year.
  • Signed the biggest package of tax cuts and reforms in history. After tax cuts, over $300 billion poured back in to the U.S. in the first quarter alone.
  • As a result of our tax bill, small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years.
  • Helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
  • Helped win U.S.-Mexico-Canada’s united bid for 2026 World Cup.
  • Opened ANWR and approved Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.
  • Record number of regulations eliminated.
  • Enacted regulatory relief for community banks and credit unions.
  • Obamacare individual mandate penalty GONE.
  • My Administration is providing more affordable healthcare options for Americans through association health plans and short-term duration plans.
  • Last month, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history. And thanks to our efforts, many drug companies are freezing or reversing planned price increases.
  • We reformed the Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs—saving seniors hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.
  • Signed Right-To-Try legislation.
  • Secured $6 billion in NEW funding to fight the opioid epidemic.
  • We have reduced high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16 percent during my first year in office.
  • Signed VA Choice Act and VA Accountability Act, expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.
  • Increased our coal exports by 60 percent; U.S. oil production recently reached all-time high.
  • United States is a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957.
  • Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord.
  • Cancelled the illegal, anti-coal, so-called Clean Power Plan.
  • Secured record $700 billion in military funding; $716 billion next year.
  • NATO allies are spending $69 billion more on defense since 2016.
  • Process has begun to make the Space Force the 6th branch of the Armed Forces.
  • Confirmed more circuit court judges than any other new administration.
  • Confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Withdrew from the horrible, one-sided Iran Deal.
  • Moved U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
  • Protecting Americans from terrorists with the Travel Ban, upheld by Supreme Court.
  • Issued Executive Order to keep open Guantanamo Bay.
  • Concluded a historic U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal to replace NAFTA. And negotiations with Canada are underway as we speak.
  • Reached a breakthrough agreement with the E.U. to increase U.S. exports.
  • Imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum to protect our national security.
  • Imposed tariffs on China in response to China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and their chronically abusive trade practices.
  • Net exports are on track to increase by $59 billion this year.
  • Improved vetting and screening for refugees, and switched focus to overseas resettlement.
  • We have begun BUILDING THE WALL. Republicans want STRONG BORDERS and NO CRIME. Democrats want OPEN BORDERS which equals MASSIVE CRIME.

VIDEO: Left or Liberal?

Tell the average American you’re a liberal and they’ll assume you’re on the political left. Yet, leftists and liberals hold very different positions on key issues. In this video, Dennis Prager explains how the tenets of liberalism like a belief in capitalism and free speech have more in common with conservatism than with the identity politics and racial resentment preached by the left.

Click here to take a brief survey about this video.

Invest Your Money Wisely: 7 Tips on Looking for Your Ideal Property Investment

Property investments are indeed an excellent profit-generating endeavor. That’s why it’s no wonder that many people are now embarking into this business. However, the road to success in property investing doesn’t easily lead you to it. There are rough paths along the way, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

When searching for properties to invest, for instance, it’s a must to take heed of the timeless advice from the experts. From thereon, you can be your own guide and make your success. So, here are some tips on how to choose an ideal property investment that will give you the highest returns on investment.

A Property in a Place with Excellent Transport Infrastructure

A property located in an area that has excellent transport infrastructure such as subway systems, bus roads, and smooth private car access is one of the top considerations when looking for a property.

Potential homebuyers and renters don’t want to reside in a suburb or city that doesn’t have these transportation conveniences. Properties located in an area with an excellent transport infrastructure are magnets to homebuyers and renters. So, if you want to have a high return on your investment, you can’t go wrong with this tip.

A Property Near an Educational Institution

Homebuyers or renters, especially students or families who have students, look for a home that has easy access to educational facilities. A property close to schools has high investment value. Thus, if getting high profits is on your mind, you should invest in a property near to an educational institution.

A Property Located in a Bustling Job Market

Property locations that offer employment opportunities are a magnet for tenants and homebuyers. You can look up at the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics to find areas that have a bustling job market for your property investment.

Listening to the news is also a must. If you got wind of any announcement of a big firm moving to a particular area, chances are job hunters will also move to that area. You should see that as an excellent opportunity for you to look for a property in that location.

Property in an Area with Low Crime Rate

Aside from choosing a property in an area with an excellent job market, renters and homebuyers are also looking for a peaceful and secured home. Therefore, it will indeed be an ideal choice if you put your investment in a property in an area with low crime rates and wherein a community is up to initiatives such as neighborhood watch.

Nowadays, crime statistics are easy to access on the internet or in local police headquarters or public library of a particular locality.

A Location with That Will Suit Up Someone’s Lifestyle

It’s essential that you’ll consider the various modern amenities in an area as it’s one of the primary selling points in property investing today. You should check if the place is near to parks, malls, museums, bars, restaurants, and movie establishments.

People are looking for a place wherein they can satisfy their modern lifestyle choices. So if you’re looking for ideal property investment, you should choose a location that can meet their requirements.

Choose the Ideal Type of Property

It’s also a must today that you know what type of property people are seeking. As a comparison, independent houses can provide a property investor with an excellent capital growth while apartments give you a better rental yield.

Most people nowadays have a keen eye on apartments as their choice of residence. However, it’s still crucial that you also consider other factors for you to select what type of property is best to invest your money.

Consult a Property Investment Advisor

In property investing, it will do you good if you consult a property investment advisor to help you look for the ideal property investment. These professionals know the market, and they’ll advise you to utilize your resources as best as they could. Firms like Pyramis Company will be of great assistance for that purpose.

Takeaway

Investing in a real estate property is indeed a profitable business. However, you should familiarize yourself with the tips on how to look for an ideal property investment. The list of advice mentioned above will be a big help for that purpose.

WARNING: MasterCard and Visa Cross the Line into Totalitarian Thought Control

Like many people, my inbox has been flooded by concerned citizens about David Horowitz and Robert Spencer over MasterCard and Visa, blocking their flow of revenue needed for daily operations. Spencer stated:

This is getting very serious. It won’t stop with David Horowitz or me. The Left is moving quickly to silence all dissenting voices in the run-up to the 2018 elections. The freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society, and it is rapidly being destroyed in the United States.

To add to the heartfelt concerns of those who respect the work of these stalwart defenders of freedom and human rights, all citizens would do well to recognize that the actions of MasterCard and Visa are also a slap in the face to their customers. These companies have infringed upon the rights of anyone who supports the cause of freedom and the efforts of Horowitz and Spencer. Customers who choose to donate to these necessary initiatives have been told that they are financing “hate” and therefore are stripped of their right to donate. They have been dictated to by MasterCard and Visa, who are acting as if they do not have the right to think for themselves as long as they want to use the services of MasterCard and Visa.

As totalitarianism overshadows America, no one can say that they were not forewarned. Both Horowitz and Spencer have been sounding the alarm for years; the Muslim Brotherhood plan for North America has been public knowledge for years. Its Explanatory Memorandum is expansive and detailed in describing its mission:

 “The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheik Mohammed stated:

“We will win because Americans don’t realize . . .we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting.”

Mohammed was correct. Far too many citizens of the West have quit — they take their freedoms of granted and are in denial, having not learned the lesson of history that fascism is insidious and does not take control of societies suddenly, as many seem to think. Its invasion is methodical and gradual.

Some examples of how businesses have joined the totalitarian initiative:

Kellogg Co. announced on November 2016 its decision to pull ads from Breitbart “because its 45,000,000 monthly conservative readers are not ‘aligned with our values as a company.’” Here we see Kellogg’s attempting to control the thoughts of citizens and impose its values on consumers. Fortunately, Breitbart “launched a #DumpKelloggs petition and called for a boycott of the ubiquitous food manufacturer, which lead to plummeting stock and reported $53 million loss in the fourth quarter.” The arrogance of Kellogg Co. was astounding, with CEO John Bryant claiming that the company’s massive losses were just a “coincidence” and not due to the boycott.

In the three months following Kellogg’s war against Breitbart:

the company has faced allegations of racism toward factory workers and has been accused of allegedly profiting from the use of child labor. Its non-profit W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s ties to radical anti-American billionaire George Soros, hate group Black Lives Matter, and deceased Cuban dictator Fidel Castro have been exposed, and the Michigan-based company is set to shutter dozens of distributions centers and lay off more than 1,100 full-time employees.

Last August, Paypal decided that it, too, wanted to interfere with freedom of speech and thought. The company cancelled Jihad Watch’s account, but it was reinstated not long afterward after public outrage. Meanwhile, the Islamic State used PayPal to send money to jihadis inside the U.S., but that revelation wasn’t enough to stop Paypal from pontificating in its letter announcing its reinstatement of the Jihad Watch account:

PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy in our User Agreement prohibits individuals and groups from using PayPal for activities that promote hate, violence, or racial intolerance.

This is a key statement, as Jihad Watch is not a hate site. It is a news aggregate and commentary site dedicated to exposing the broad range of human rights abuses committed in the name of Islam, and reports from a range of news sites are referenced. Take, for example, a few recent Jihad Watch headlines:

These are but a mere few examples, but they go on and on. What normal citizen can point out the “hate” in exposing such news? Every single day, reports emerge from the four corners of the earth about human rights abuses committed in the name of Islam, Islamic supremacist incursions into once-peaceful countries, the slaughter and injury of innocent people committed in the name of Islam, and jihad attacks. If reporting and discussing these facts are an offense to Muslims and deemed to be “hateful” and “racist,” then we need to have serious open discussions about why and how this is so. But there is a strenuous effort to shut down all discussion of these matters.

Meanwhile, who remembers or cares about the victims? Jihad Watch, the Horowitz Center and others that are unashamed to stand for human rights and who are grateful to those who died in the cause of freedom. Fierce battles have been waged against fascism, and if history has taught us anything, we should know that fascist regimes endeavor to control the thoughts and words of their people, as does the Southern Poverty Law Center today. The SPLC has mutated into a hate group itself. In the words of its former spokesman Mark Potok, who spent 20 years as an SPLC senior fellow (according to LinkedIn):

Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups, I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them.

As reported by Breitbart:

The David Horowitz Freedom Center has had their donation processing system blocked by Visa and Mastercard allegedly following a campaign by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Visa has since contacted Breitbart News to deny involvement in the blacklisting of the Freedom Center.

It is by degrees that totalitarians manage to seize control. The establishment media becomes a mouthpieces of the people in power, and soon, the population becomes enslaved to their ideologies, as we see with Islamofascism. It is abusive, oppressive and aims to silence all dissent as it marches against the House of War in order to subvert it and bring it into the House of Islam. This 1,400-year-old doctrine has infiltrated the West in the private and public sectors, and the Muslim Brotherhood, in accordance with its memorandum, has managed to redefine “hate” to mean any criticism of Islam.

Now Horowitz and Spencer stand accused of “hate,” without any semblance of justice or due process. MasterCard and Visa have bowed to the totalitarian impulse, and in so doing have also indicted their customers. This will continue, if there is no resistance. Let’s hope that boycotts and class action suits will soon be in the offing, prompted by both consumers and the leaders of conservative organizations.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch.

6 Reasons Why Cloud-Based Accounting is a Boon to Your Small Business

Before all the technological advancements we’re enjoying today, small business owners often faced the challenge of becoming more competitive and efficient in their business operations. Tackling money management, for instance, was indeed a time-consuming process using old-school manual accounting software.

Thanks to cloud-based tools, accounting is now more flexible, secure, cost-effective, and competitive. If you have a keen eye to make your small business successful, you should adopt cloud-based accounting in managing the financial aspect of your business. Here are the six reasons why you should use it now.

The Storage is Free

One of the good things about cloud-based accounting is that you won’t have to install anything because the storage is online and free. You can also guarantee that there are regular and automatic updates to keep your accounts secure. It will minimize overhead cost and other expenses as the cloud service provider shoulders the management of the cloud software.

It Provides Accuracy

In old-school manual accounting, compliance risks and commission of errors are not far-fetched. Accounting processes in a cloud, on the other hand, are not only user-friendly but also more accurate.

Detection of fraud and minor errors are easier because the accounting process is fully automated. It means you won’t waste a lot of your time looking for errors.

Security is Guaranteed

It’s understandable that some business owners have doubts about cloud-based security. However, it’s also undeniable that there are features of cloud-based accounting that make your financial accounts more secure than locally-hosted accounting software.

An excellent example of this is the cloud’s backup feature that prevents the likelihood of any loss of data from your accounts. Even if someone steals your computer, you can assure that no one can access your data unless that person has your account details.

Besides, you’ll still have access and manage your cloud-based account through your smartphone or another computer. So, there won’t be any interruption to your business operations.

It Fosters Collaboration

Old-school accounting software only provides access to one user. With cloud-based accounting, however, any key person of your business can view and work through the financial data via their smartphones. Thus, it fosters collaboration within a team. Anytime and anywhere team members can have updates and will stay connected with their work.

It Guarantees Flexibility

Locally-hosted accounting software only allows a user to access the financial information in one location – the office computer, for instance. It’s not the case with using cloud-based accounting.

Since using cloud technology enables a user to access the data as long as there’s internet connection, you can do your work anytime, anywhere. Your accounting job will now be more flexible. Moreover, you can utilize add-ons where you can integrate systems in case you want to work with a management tool or a payroll system.

Using Cloud is More Efficient

A cloud-based accounting is a tool that provides an increased level of efficiency and productivity to your business. If you use a cloud, gone are the days when you worry about maintenance and installations. You can now have more time to concentrate on the marketing and customer/client side of your business.

Efficiency is one of the reasons why a lot of small businesses are now switching to cloud-based accounting. If you want to learn more about cloud-based accounting, you can check sites like Compass Accounting for that purpose.

Takeaway

It’s essential for your business to keep updated with what’s new in technology. One of the technological advancements that provide a huge benefit to your business is a cloud-based accounting. It’s now a hot topic among business and tech circles because of its promise to make a more competitive advantage to a business endeavor.

Cloud-based accounting provides more security, efficiency, accuracy, and flexibility in working your financial data. That’s why you shouldn’t miss this technology to make your business successful.

Meet the Man Who Saved Early America From Debt

When Thomas Jefferson appointed Albert Gallatin to be secretary of the treasury in 1801, Federalists expected the worst.

They had just lost the presidency for the first time, in an election so sharply contested that it took 36 ballots in the House of Representatives to make Jefferson president. They had also lost their majority in Congress.

Now Jefferson was putting the man who had led the Republican congressional opposition in charge of the largest and most powerful department of government.

They knew this man Gallatin all too well. He was a foreigner, a tax rebel, and a dangerously clever man. For the last six years, he had been the ablest and most vocal critic of the federal financial system. His objections to taxes, federal spending, and public debt were relentless.

Now he would turn those objections into policies that would endanger the fragile federal regime. At the least, he would starve the embryonic military establishment in order to repay the debt.

Gallatin had come to national attention only six years earlier when the Pennsylvania backcountry rose against Alexander Hamilton’s tax on distilled spirits in what later would be called the Whiskey Rebellion.

Gallatin had taken a lead in the early protests against Hamilton’s whiskey excise, but he opposed the protesters’ turn toward violence. His moderation earned him respect and an unexpected election to Congress.

Hamilton was a formidable man, “an host within himself” in the biblical phrase Jefferson later applied to him. He had the support of Washington, the virtually unassailable embodiment of revolutionary virtue. And he had a masterful grip on public finance, a subject with which Madison, Jefferson, and their supporters struggled. Hamilton’s Treasury operations bewildered them; they could not escape the feeling that he meant to dupe them.

Gallatin was an essential addition to the Republican cadre when he entered the House in 1795. His natural talent with numbers and his experience with public finance in Pennsylvania at last put the Republicans on equal terms with the Treasury.

Gallatin demystified Treasury operations, showed how the Washington administration had increased the public debt, and exposed the administration’s financial proposals to more open debate. He had an instinct for making shrewd amendments, often—his opponents complained—at the end of the day when they were tired or distracted.

His speeches were persuasive, and despite a thick French accent, his delivery was compelling.

Madison was soon reporting to Jefferson that Gallatin was “a real treasure,” and at his aerie in Virginia, Jefferson caught Madison’s enthusiasm. “If Mr. Gallatin,” he wrote, “would undertake to reduce [Hamilton’s] chaos to order, present us with a clear view of our finances, and put them into a form as simple as they will admit, he will merit immortal honor. The accounts of the U.S. ought to be, and may be made, as simple as those of a common farmer, and capable of being understood by common farmers.”

Jefferson knew that Gallatin was controversial, but he did not hesitate to appoint him. Jefferson believed that Gallatin was the only man in their party who understood Hamilton’s financial system well enough to reform it.

And Jefferson never swerved from that conclusion. The year after he left the presidency, he urged Gallatin to remain at the Treasury. Repayment of the public debt was “vital to the destinies of our government,” he reminded the treasury secretary, and “that great hope” would be lost without him.

Gallatin deserves a properly historicized treatment. The politics and economics of another time were more complicated than they appear in retrospect, and the fiscal policies of the past often turned on factors that elude us in hindsight.

We cannot understand the Jeffersonian Republicans’ strident objections to Alexander Hamilton’s financial system unless we look closely at what they actually did about the system when they came to power. We cannot understand what they did about it until we reencounter their choices.

It is not enough to look at the taxes they repealed and the debt they repaid, the troops they disbanded, and the national bank they closed. Nor is it enough to generalize about their economic and social aspirations, their agrarian bias, and their views on political economy.

We need to watch the actors struggle over practical decisions and deal with unwanted contingencies. Instead of simply quoting their rhetoric, we must ask what they accomplished and why they failed. We must get to know the man who was in charge of the Treasury.

No one doubts that Gallatin was a central figure in the early republic. “What Hamilton was to Washington, Gallatin was to Jefferson,” wrote Henry Adams. If the “historical Jefferson hardly would have been possible without a Madison,” as another historian has said, then neither of them would have been possible without Gallatin.

All three men rejected Hamilton’s vision for America, but only Gallatin was capable of undoing the fiscal system through which Hamilton had hoped to implement it.

Gallatin was treasury secretary for 12 years, longer than anyone else would lead an executive department for the next century. He put the country’s finances on a bold new republican course.

He abolished internal revenue taxes in peacetime, slashed federal spending, and repaid half of the national debt. He stoutly resisted military spending because he thought a well-armed government was more likely to waste the country’s resources in war.

His frugality became the hallmark of American public finance for more than a hundred years. His statue on a tall pedestal in front of the Treasury building bears witness to his hold on the American imagination well into the 20th century.

This excerpt was published with permission from the book, Jefferson’s Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt” (Regnery, 2018).

Purchase Gregory May’s book,

Jefferson’s Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt

COMMENTARY BY

Gregory May is an internationally known tax expert with a long career in tax and corporate finance.


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Albert Gallatin secretary of the treasury under President Thomas Jefferson. (Photo of painting: akg-images/Newscom)

Energy Conferees Shut Down Fuel Economy Mandates as Costly to Consumers

NEW ORLEANS—Sterling Burnett doesn’t always want to sit next to someone he doesn’t know on a train, plane, or bus.

But he’s willing to fight for the freedom of those same strangers when it comes time for them to purchase a motor vehicle.

“What I care about is … your freedom to choose the vehicle of your choice,” Burnett, an environmental policy expert for the Heartland Institute, said during a panel discussion at the free-market think tank’s America First Energy Conference that took a critical look at fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

“I don’t think government should be in the business of deciding the characteristics of the vehicle you drive,” Burnett said of the so-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. “That’s what CAFE standards do. Automobility is a form of freedom.”

Burnett, a senior fellow on environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization based in Illinois, espoused the virtues of automotive freedom:

I take the train, I enjoy the train, and we all fly. And I take buses. But sometimes that’s not my alternative and quite frankly, I don’t always want to sit next to strangers. And maybe I want to listen to a particular kind of music or a news program, and I don’t want plugs in my ears.

When I used to commute to work, I enjoyed my time in the car because it was my time and it wasn’t dominated by work. Cars allow [you] to have the freedom to live outside of inner cities, and to visit distant relatives whenever you want. One hundred years ago, you couldn’t do this.

‘Victory for Consumer Choice’

Congress first enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in 1975 in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 that limited gasoline supplies and drove up prices. The idea was to reduce American dependence on foreign oil.

The latest version of CAFE and emissions standards for light-duty vehicles is called SAFE, an acronym for Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.

The Trump administration has proposed a rule change that is a joint initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The two agencies are seeking public comment on regulatory options, according to a press release, “including a preferred alternative that locks in [model year] 2020 standards through 2026, providing a much-needed time-out from further, costly increases.”

Nick Loris, an economist with The Heritage Foundation who focuses on energy, environmental, and regulatory issues, credits the Trump administration with moving forward with a proposal that he sees as beneficial to consumers.

“Without a doubt, the Trump administration’s recent proposal is a welcome victory for consumer choice, but also for people who are just concerned about the upfront costs of new cars and new trucks,” Loris said during the panel discussion at the Heartland Institute conference.

“It would be nice if Congress demonstrated similar fortitude and recognized that energy use mandates for vehicles, for dishwashers, and [for] clocks on microwaves are all unnecessary and repealed these standards, but I think that’s wishful thinking.”

Challenging California

The Trump administration’s preferred alternative “reflects a balance of safety, economics, technology, fuel conservation, and pollution reduction” and is expected to reduce road fatalities and injuries, the EPA and highway safety agency say in the press release.

The rule change begins a process to create a new, 50-state standard for fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions for cars and light trucks with the model years 2021 through 2026.

The Obama administration permitted California to set its own auto emissions standards under a federal waiver, but the Trump administration could seek to eliminate the waiver as part of the change.

Twelve states concentrated in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest follow California’s lead with stricter emissions standards, as does the District of Columbia.

The Obama administration worked with state officials in California to set fuel efficiency standards, a key component of Barack Obama’s efforts as president to address climate change.

If the Trump administration proposal is implemented, California and the 12 other states would need to observe the new federal rules on emissions.

 ‘Relics of the Past’

Loris, the Heritage economist, described energy use mandates and CAFE standards as “relics of the past” and byproducts of “politically concocted problems” that put energy consumers at a disadvantage.

Loris said he sees a “systemic problem” in how politicians, pundits, and lobbyists view energy markets.

“The inability of the federal government and regulators to predict what’s going to happen in energy markets” often leads to counterproductive regulatory policies, he said.

For instance, Loris noted, predictions about the price of oil tend to be off the mark.

For a 2008 article, The Wall Street Journal asked “a wide range of economists, energy analysts, and other experts to predict what the price of oil would be at the end of year,” Loris recalled.

Their predictions ranged from a low of $70 per barrel to a high of $167.50. The actual price: $44.60.

Sam Kazman, a panelist who is a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discussed a legal victory he secured on behalf of the Washington-based free-market public policy organization.

A federal appeals court ruled that federal transportation officials illegally concealed how fuel-efficiency standards jeopardized public safety on the highways.

The court found that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration illegally tried “to paper over” the safety issue through a combination of “fudged analysis,” “statistical legerdemain,” “lame claims,” and “specious arguments.”

Keeping Costs Down

Kazman expressed disappointment that avowed consumer-safety champions such as former presidential candidate Ralph Nader didn’t support the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s position against the fuel-efficiency standards.

But to improve public safety through CAFE standards requires officials to “get rid of a government program, rather than expanding it,” he said.

With the proposed rule change, Trump administration officials say they anticipate consumers will experience reduced costs and improved safety.

“The current standards have been a factor in the rising cost of new automobiles to an average of $35,000 or more—out of reach for many American families,” the EPA’s release says, adding:

Indeed, compared to the preferred alternative in the proposal, keeping in place the standards finalized in 2012 would add $2,340 to the cost of owning a new car, and impose more than $500 billion in societal costs on the U.S. economy over the next 50 years.

Officials also point to a study earlier this year by the highway safety agency that found newer vehicles are safer than older vehicles now on the road, and their wider use would result in fewer fatalities and injuries.

“What the Trump administration has done is stunning,” Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said during another panel examining the administration’s progress on energy policy.

“They have kicked California out of setting the CAFE standard,” Ebell said. “They have done everything right, and it is great for consumer choice.”

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of A woman pumping gas at a station in Falls Church, Virginia December 16, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

The Earliest Signing of the NDAA in 40 Years Is a Giant Step in Rebuilding the Military

With President Donald Trump’s signature Monday at Fort Drum, New York, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 will be the earliest a defense authorization bill has become law since 1978.

Forty years ago, the bill was 16 pages long and was called the “Department of Defense Appropriation Authorization Act, 1978.” This year’s NDAA is close to 800 pages. The early date is even more impressive considering that the last time that the NDAA was signed into law before the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 was in 1997.

The early passage of the 2019 NDAA represents a level of stability and predictability uncommon in the recent history of the Department of Defense, and it should be very helpful in the efforts to rebuild our military.

There are two important factors worth noting that contributed to the early timing of the 2019 NDAA: the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the shadow projected by the absence of Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Bipartisan Budget Act has its flaws and represented the capitulation of substantial budgetary controls for 2018 and 2019; nonetheless, it brought a much-needed defense budget increase for both years. The 2019 defense base budget was set at $647 billion, of which a little over $639 billion was under the auspices of the NDAA.

The increased and certain budgetary number removed the biggest point of contention that lawmakers usually have with the NDAA. It enabled both the House and Senate to start working from a common top line and all but eliminated the debates on how to balance defense with other priorities in the budget.

Since late December, McCain has been in Arizona dealing with the effects of the treatment for his brain cancer. In his absence, Sen. James Inhofe, the second-ranking Republican on the committee, has been performing the duties of Armed Services Committee chairman. Still, Inhofe has expressed multiple times that the NDAA and the work of the committee were shaped by McCain.

Naming the NDAA after the absent chairman is a fitting recognition for the senator’s influence and role played in many consecutive bills. It recognizes the importance of his work, not only on the 2019 version of the bill, but in the defense community in general.

Despite all the positive signs that the Fort Drum signing ceremony brings, it is important to highlight that it does not mark the end of the effort to rebuild the military.

It took the military many years to get in a state of deteriorated readiness described by The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength. By the same token, it will take time to rebuild it. It is not a two-year effort.

When Secretary of Defense James Mattis was discussing the rebuilding efforts, he mentioned the need for sustained and increased funding at least until 2023 to be able to fully rebuild military capabilities.

The defense budget will require more resources if we are to build out those capabilities to face the threats described by the national defense strategy.

The Budget Control Act caps that limit how much the country can invest in its defense will return in 2020 and 2021. If the country were to observe those caps, it would represent a decrease of $71 billion over the 2019 base budget.

That will require sustained engagement with Congress and the American people to explain and make the case for the defense budget and the military rebuild.

Despite the successes in 2018 and 2019, the American people cannot and should not think that the job is done. It will still take time and resources to rebuild the military that America requires.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Frederico Bartels

Frederico Bartels is a policy analyst for defense budgeting at The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. Twitter: .


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Donald Trump talking with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Walter “Walt” Piatt, the commanding general of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum, as the president observes a demonstration with U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division troops and helicopters at Fort Drum, New York, on Aug. 13. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters/Newscom)

5 of the Worst Economic Predictions in History

Uncertainty makes human beings uncomfortable. Not knowing what’s going to happen in the future creates a sense of unrest in many people. That’s why we sometimes draw on predictions made by leading experts in their respective fields to make decisions in our daily lives. Unfortunately, history has shown that experts aren’t often much better than the average person when it comes to forecasting the future. And economists aren’t an exception. Here are five economic predictions that never came true.

Irving Fisher was one of the great economists of the first half of the 20th century. His contributions to economic science are varied: the relationship between inflation and interest rates, the use of price indexes or the restatement of the quantity theory of money are some of them. Yet he is sometimes remembered by an unfortunate statement he made in the days prior to the Crash of 1929. Fisher said that “stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau (…) I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months.” A few days later, the stock market crashed with devastating consequences. After all, even geniuses aren’t exempt from making mistakes.

In 1968, biologist Paul Ehrlich published a book where he argued that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the following decades as a result of overpopulation. He went as far as far as to say that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over (…) nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Of course, Ehrlich’s predictions never came true. Since the publication of the book, the death rate has moved from 12.44 permille in 1968 to 7.65 permille in 2016, and undernourishment has declined dramatically even though the population has doubled since 1950. Seldom in history has someone been so wrong about the future of humankind.

Economist Ravi Batra reached the number one on The New York Times Best Seller List in 1987 thanks to his book The Great Depression of 1990. From the title, one can easily infer what was the main thesis of the book, namely: An economic crisis is imminent, and it will be a tough one. Fortunately, his prediction failed to come true. In fact, the 1990s was a period of relative stability and strong economic growth, with the US stock market growing at an 18 percent annualized rate. Not so bad for an economic depression, right?

In September 2007, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan released a memoir called The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. In the book, he claimed that the economy was heading towards two-digit interest rates due to expected inflationary pressures. According to Greenspan, the Fed would be compelled to drastically raise its target interest rate to fulfill the 2 percent inflation mandate. One year later, the Fed Funds rate was at historical lows, reaching the zero-lower bound shortly after.

Financial commentator Peter Schiff became famous in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis for having foreseen the housing crash back in 2006 (even a broken clock is right twice a day). Since then, he has been predicting economic catastrophes every other day, with very limited success. There are many examples of failed predictions from which to draw upon. For instance, in a 2010 video (see below), Schiff foretold that Quantitative Easing (the unconventional monetary policy undertaken by the Fed between 2008 and 2014) would result in hyperinflation and the eventual destruction of the Dollar. Unfortunately for Schiff, the average inflation rate per year since the onset of QE has been 1.68%, slightly below the 2% target of the Fed.

Reprinted from Intellectual Takeout.

COLUMN BY

Luis Pablo de la Horra

Luis Pablo de la Horra

Luis Pablo De La Horra holds a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Finance. He writes for FEE, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Speakfreely.today.

The Unsung Hero Who Financed the American Revolution, and His Lesson for Today

The name that King George III is said to have called the “most damning name of all” on the Declaration of Independence was not that of Benjamin Franklin, John or Samuel Adams, or even John Hancock. Instead, it was businessman Robert Morris.

As the “financier of the revolution,” Morris deserves to be duly recognized for his role in the American founding.

Morris came from humble beginnings as an orphaned immigrant from England and served as an apprentice for a shipper-banker in Philadelphia. By age 24, Morris had already opened the London Coffee House while also leading a shipping and banking firm of his own. Through these endeavors, he quickly garnered wealth, influential connections, and renown in his community.

Excessive British interference in the corporate affairs of the American Colonies stirred Morris’ desire for liberty. The Stamp Act of 1765 was a particularly egregious infringement for businessmen like Morris, prompting him to assemble his fellow colonists and take to the streets in protest.

By inspiring those around him to defend their freedom, Morris’ efforts held the overreaches of the monarchy in check.

Encouraged by this success, Morris began discovering new methods to utilize his resources and connections to secure liberty. Working his way up through local governmental bodies, he found himself in the Second Continental Congress, for which he managed organizational capital and even began procuring war supplies from Europe in preparation for prospective large-scale conflict with England.

His network of distributors in the commercial shipping industry allowed him to identify and involve supporters—even those back in Europe—who were sympathetic to the budding revolution.

Despite Morris’ desire to rein in governmental overreach, he thought that talk of revolution was premature, and questioned whether the Colonies were yet in a position to govern themselves.

When the time came to vote on independence, Morris surprisingly dissented, because he thought the Colonies were not prepared for self-governance. Yet, witnessing the desire of the people to be set free, he abstained from voting for the sake of having the motion for American independence pass.

In a letter to Gen. Horatio Gates in 1776, Morris revealed that he was willing to set aside his personal thoughts on revolt because of how earnestly his fellow colonists desired it. “I am not one of those politicians that run testy when my own plans are not adopted; for I think it the duty of a good citizen to follow when he cannot lead,” he wrote.

He later gladly signed the Declaration of Independence.

George Washington liked Morris’ character and fundraising abilities so much that he maintained regular communication with him, penning more than 130 letters from 1776 to 1798.

One of Washington’s most pressing requests to Morris came as his army awaited the crossing of the Delaware for the famous Battle of Trenton. In this gloomy hour of the American Revolution, with his troops exhausted and downtrodden, Washington wrote to Morris asking for $10,000 to provide much-needed provisions for his troops.

Morris selflessly answered the call, donating $10,000 of his own funds. This provided the boost Washington needed for a decisive victory in Trenton, one that would inspire more troops to join his ranks.

Later in the revolution, during the Yorktown campaign of 1781, Morris would rise to the challenge again. The fledgling nation was fiscally faltering, so Morris decided to issue $1.4 million in notes backed by his own credit to keep the nation afloat.

As he noted in a letter to Benjamin Harrison, “My personal credit, which thank heaven I have preserved through all the tempests of the war, has been substituted for that which the country has lost … I am now striving  to transfer that credit to the public.”

In fact, Morris was so highly respected that he secured many loans on behalf of the government with nothing but his integrity as collateral.

No other man single-handedly contributed more to funding the Revolutionary War. Morris truly lived out the words written in the declaration he signed, pledging his “life, fortune, and sacred honor” for the sake of his country.

His faithfulness in doing so should cement Morris as a hero in the minds of all Americans, but especially conservatives.

Our nation is once again at a crossroads between liberty and tyranny, with the ideals of the Founders challenged by the liberal left.

As Morris asserted in a letter to Col. Joseph Reed, “[I]t is the duty of every individual to act his part in whatever station his country may call him to in times of difficulty, danger, and distress.”

More than ever, we need generous conservatives to take up the mantle of Robert Morris and employ whatever skills and passions they have toward reclaiming America.

COMMENTARY BY

Calvin Blaylock

Calvin Blaylock is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Portrait of Andrew P. McIndoe

Andrew P. McIndoe is director of donor relations at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is a painting of Robert Morris standing behind Major John Ross as Betsy Ross sews the first American flag. George Washington sits to the left. (Photo: akg-images/Newscom)

Environmental Activists Ignore The Strong Case For Offshore Oil Drilling

By David Mica

While environmental activists continue to push the same weak claims for opposing offshore energy exploration and production despite successful operations elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, there are 56,000 reasons why Florida should open its waters to exploration.

That’s the number of high-paying Florida jobs Florida could see by 2035 if it embraces its offshore opportunities. And the benefits don’t stop there. In addition to jobs, additional offshore oil and gas production could positively impact:

National security: Why depend on foreign, often hostile, sources of energy when we have the potential to secure our own resources here at home?

Exports: With abundant domestic energy resources, the U.S. can be the world’s energy leader, creating jobs at home and enhancing security for our allies abroad. Win-win.

Increased Safety: Offshore operations today are safer than ever before. Since 2010, more than 100 standards have been created or strengthened, including for improved safety and environmental management, well design, blowout prevention, and spill response.

Price at the pump: Every barrel of oil we produce domestically adds stability to the global oil supply, putting downward pressure on prices. As the third largest consumer of motor fuels in the U.S., Florida benefits from greater domestic energy production and has the potential to significantly contribute to it as well.

Environmental Protection: Florida has received more than $908 million in federal funding over the past five decades to conserve our precious natural and historic treasures. That funding comes from oil and natural gas revenues. We can safely produce energy and use the revenues for important environmental conservation throughout the state. Another win-win.

Hurricane disruptions: Everyone in Florida knows the potential damage hurricanes can have on daily life and livelihoods. Further diversification of the nationwide energy infrastructure network would help prevent disruptions to gasoline supply after storms.

Energy conservation: Greater use of natural gas for electricity generation has helped drive U.S. carbon emissions to 25-year lows. Florida is on the front lines of this exciting trend, generating more than 60 percent of its electricity from clean, affordable natural gas and demonstrating that energy production and environmental progress are not mutually exclusive.

Florida’s Tourism Economy: Decades of experience in the Gulf of Mexico confirm that energy development can safely coexist with fishing and tourism, as state officials with firsthand experience enthusiastically attest.

The facts support taking advantage of Florida’s offshore energy resources. Florida families and businesses already benefit from offshore energy exploration — from the sidelines. By getting in the game, we can grow our economy and be part of making the nation more energy secure.

ABOUT DAVID MICA

David Mica is the Executive Director of the Florida American Petroleum Institute.

RELATED ARTICLES:

The Incredible Economic Opportunities of Offshore Energy Exploration

The Benefits of U.S. Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Development in the Eastern Gulf

How Do You Tell If The Earth’s Climate System “Is Warming”?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act. The Revolutionary Act has no financial or other affiliation with API.

The Good Intentions Fallacy Is Driving Support for Democratic Socialism

“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” – Milton Friedman

hile Venezuela continues to collapse into a living hell for all but Nicolás Maduro and ruling elites, support in America for democratic socialism continues to rise.

Photo: New York Times.

Graphic reports such as the recent New York Times photo essay about starvation in Venezuela abound:

Kenyerber Aquino Merchán was 17 months old when he starved to death.

His father left before dawn to bring him home from the hospital morgue. He carried Kenyerber’s skeletal frame into the kitchen and handed it to a mortuary worker who makes house calls for Venezuelan families with no money for funerals.

Kenyerber’s spine and rib cage protruded as the embalming chemicals were injected… relatives cut out a pair of cardboard wings from one of the empty white ration boxes that families increasingly depend on amid the food shortages and soaring food prices throttling the nation. They gently placed the tiny wings on top of Kenyerber’s coffin to help his soul reach heaven—a tradition when a baby dies in Venezuela…

[H]is father, Carlos Aquino, a 37-year-old construction worker, began to weep uncontrollably. “How can this be?” he cried, hugging the coffin and speaking softly, as if to comfort his son in death. “Your papá will never see you again.”

If you are inclined to believe this is an isolated incident, reporters Meridith Kohut and Isayen Herrera disabuse you of your ignorance: “Hunger has stalked Venezuela for years. Now, it is killing the nation’s children at an alarming rate, doctors in the country’s public hospitals say.”

With reports like these, one wonders how support for socialism in America can be growing?

If some Americans are economically illiterate and ahistorical that would explain their support. If they have mistakenly identified Scandinavian countries as socialist, that would also offer an explanation.

Perhaps people are seeking more meaning in their lives and being part of a mass movement fills a void.

Some students have admitted to me they value being able to exercise power over others. Perhaps they see socialism as a means to acquire power?

These may be some of the explanations for increasing support for democratic socialism; and yet, there is another factor at work. Americans are increasingly allowing their thinking to be influenced by logical fallacies.

Charlie Munger is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the legendary conglomerate he controls with Warren Buffett. In a speech at Harvard University about human misjudgment, Munger tells of a surgeon who removed “bushel baskets full of normal gallbladders” and continued maiming patients for five years past the point he should have been removed.

Munger was curious. Was the doctor motivated by greed? Munger was surprised to learn that the maiming doctor “loved” his patients and was motivated by good intentions. Munger sought insight from a doctor who had been involved in the surgeon’s removal:

I said, “Tell me, did he think, here’s a way for me to exercise my talents,” this guy was very skilled technically, “And make a high living by doing a few maimings and murders every year, along with some frauds?” And he said, “Hell no, Charlie. He thought that the gallbladder was the source of all medical evil, and if you really love your patients, you couldn’t get that organ out rapidly enough.”

For the surgeon’s patients, his good intentions were of little comfort.

When doctors of the ailing George Washington bled him, they were motivated by good intentions; and their unscientific medical practice arguably hastened Washington’s death.

Politicians who trust their seat-of-the-pants good intentions inevitably become authoritarians. They are relying on the limits of their error-prone minds and not on proven principles that promote human flourishing.

Those who rely on their good intentions to guide their actions are arrogant rather than humble. They have little respect or understanding for, as Hayek put it in his essay “Individualism: True or False,” the “spontaneous collaboration of free men [that] often creates things which are greater than their individual minds can ever fully comprehend.”

When Hugo Chavez, the father of Venezuela’s nightmare, passed in 2013, President Carter praised Chavez’s bold leadership saying, “We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized.”

Carter never doubted Chavez’s good intentions. Indeed, Carter offered those intentions as exculpatory evidence excusing Chavez’s brutality:

Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chavez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen.

Professor Owen Williamson of the University of Texas at El Paso might say President Carter had fallen victim to the logical fallacy, The Argument from Motives: “Falsely justifying or excusing evil or vicious actions because of the perpetrator’s apparent purity of motives or lack of malice.”

In his book Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman argued that there were two threats to freedom, external and internal. In 1962, Friedman pointed to the Soviet Union as an external threat. Seeing an internal danger, Friedman argued, is more difficult because it is “far more subtle”:

It is the internal threat coming from men of good intentions and good will who wish to reform us. Impatient with the slowness of persuasion and example to achieve the great social changes they envision, they are anxious to use the power of the state to achieve their ends and confident of their own ability to do so. Yet if they gained the power, they would fail to achieve their immediate aims and, in addition, would produce a collective state from which they would recoil in horror and of which they would be among the first victims.

That “concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it” has become among Friedman’s most famous ideas. His warning is ignored today by those believing the “good intentions” of politicians, such as Bernie Sanders or congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will render their destructive policies harmless.

Friedman challenged his readers to consider, “Which if any of the great ‘reforms’ of past decades has achieved its objectives? Have the good intentions of the proponents of these reforms been realized?”

Related to the Good Intentions Fallacy is the Positive Thinking Fallacy. As Professor Williamson puts it, positive thinking is “an immensely popular but deluded modern fallacy of logos, that because we are ‘thinking positively’ that in itself somehow biases external, objective reality in our favor even before we lift a finger to act.”

Let us grant “good intentions” to today’s cadres of democratic socialists. Let us assume they are “thinking positively.” No matter. No good intentions or positive thoughts will overcome how reality works. The destructive outcomes of socialism will follow as history repeats itself.

COLUMN BY

Adam Putnam Lies about the FairTax — Putnam looks more and more like a Charlie Crist republican

Adam Putnam launched the below ad titled “23% More” on July 24th, 2018. The ad attacks his Florida gubernatorial opponent Congressman Ron DeSantis for his support of the FairTax.

NewsMax reports in an article titled “New Adam Putnam Ad Hits DeSantis on 23% Sales Tax Plan” that the ad states:

“What would a 23 percent sales tax do to Florida’s economy?” asks the ad now on YouTube, dubbing DeSantis as “D.C. DeSantis.”

“If Congressman DeSantis had his way, everything would cost 23 percent more — groceries, gas, home purchases.”

“Congressman DeSantis sponsored legislation to increase sales taxes by 23 percent, hurting families, destroying jobs, devastating tourism. Washington is full of bad ideas and phony politicians. Ron DeSantis and his huge tax increase fit right in,” the ad continues.

Read more.

The problem is Putnam is lying.

Libertarian radio host Neal Boortz, who co-wrote “The FairTax Book,” responded to Putnam’s ad with a tweet: “If you are having trouble understanding the FairTax, perhaps you ought to comment me. I wrote the book.” He followed up, “The Adam Putnam campaign is LYING THROUGH ITS TEETH … and they know it.”

What Putnam doesn’t tell you is that Floridians will benefit from the FairTax because it will eliminate all federal taxes (income, estate, payroll, gift and business). Florida has no state income tax, which is a reason many people relocate to the Sunshine State. Let’s look at the chart below showing the current income tax brackets and rates to understand why Putnam is lying.

You will notice that individuals making more than $38,000 will actually see a tax decrease. Also note that the FairTax gives those below the federal poverty level (FPL) a quarterly refund of estimated sales taxes paid under the FairTax.

Here is the a table of percentages of the FPL guidelines.

Size of
Family Unit
48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $12,140 $15,180 $13,960
2 16,460 20,580 18,930
3 20,780 25,980 23,900
4 25,100 31,380 28,870
5 29,420 36,780 33,840
6 33,740 42,180 38,810
7 38,060 47,580 43,780
8 42,380 52,980 48,750
For each additional
person, add
 4,320  5,400  4,970

The FairTax also eliminates all small business and corporate federal taxes. This saves Florida’s individuals, small business and corporations money by neither having to file tax returns nor hiring tax lawyers and accountants. In its annual survey of Tax Return Preparation Fee Averages, the National Society of Accountants reports the following average fees its members charged to prepare 2014 tax returns: 1040 with state return with no itemized deductions: $159. 1040 with Schedule A (itemized deductions) and state return: $273.

Additionally, Congress will lose its power to use taxes to reward and punish individuals and companies. Congress and career politicians will lose their ability to weaponize the IRS.

When your factor in all of these items it appears that the title of “D.C.” belongs to Putnam, not DeSantis. Putnam wants Floridians to continue to pay federal income taxes. Sounds like Putnam is still part of the swamp.

When the FairTax is implemented Florida will truly become an Income Tax Free state.

RELATED ARTICLE: Misleading Putnam ad twists DeSantis stance on taxes – PolitiFact

Trump Administration Takes on Unions Over ‘Skimming’ Medicaid Funds

Sally Coomer of Seattle, who cares for her disabled adult daughter at home, doesn’t like the fact that union dues are deducted from the Medicaid payment she gets for her services under a Washington state policy.

“The money that is taken out in union dues, if it was not siphoned off, could be used to provide for more care,” Coomer told The Daily Signal about the Medicaid stipend given to home care providers.

“A lot of family members forgo careers to take care of family members and are working in situations where they are really financially struggling,” she said.

Washington is one of 11 states where the state governments work with public-sector unions to automatically deduct a portion of the Medicaid stipend and divert it to unions representing state employee unions.

The other states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont, according to the State Policy Network, a conservative think tank that focuses on state issues.

Nine states take money from Medicaid home child care workers: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

However, the states face pushback from the Trump administration and, potentially, the courts in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down mandatory payments to public employee unions by employees who don’t belong to the union.

The rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would eliminate states’ ability to divert part of Medicaid payments from providers to a third party.

Home caregivers are often relatives or close friends of a family, and they receive the Medicaid stipends for in-home care that varies based on hours required.

Caregivers may pay up to $1,000 per year in union dues, according to the State Policy Network, which says state governments are “dues-skimming” an estimated $200 million per year from home health providers and $50 million from child day care providers to give to unions.

Coomer’s daughter Becky, almost 28, has cerebral palsy and a disorder that causes seizures. She is blind and developmentally disabled.

Coomer, who has become an advocate for other families who don’t want to be forced to pay union dues, said many home care providers are not aware they have a choice in joining a union.

To qualify in Washington state, family members are required to go to an orientation run by the Service Employees International Union, which represents state government employees.

“At the orientation, they would tell people they are required to sign up,” Coomer said. “I don’t know what benefit we get from the dues. The only time I hear from the union is when they inundate me with a political agenda.”

The proposed new Medicaid regulation, announced July 10, is open for public comment.

The Social Security Act generally prohibits states from making payments for Medicaid services to anyone but the provider, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Exceptions include a court order for wage garnishments or child support.

However, in 2014, under the Obama administration, the CMS revised the regulation to provide for a new exception that primarily includes independent, in-home personal care workers, to allow a state to divert part of the Medicaid payment to third parties such as a union.

Under the Trump administration, the CMS determined that the Obama administration rule is not consistent with the statute. Under the proposed rule, providers still would be free to voluntarily join a union and pay union dues from their own pockets.

“The law provides that Medicaid providers must be paid directly and cannot have part of their payments diverted to third parties outside of a few very specific exceptions,” Tim Hill, acting director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, said in a public statement. “This proposed rule is intended to ensure that providers receive their complete payment, and any circumstances in which a state does divert part of a provider’s payment must be clearly allowed under the law.”

Organized labor opposes the proposed change.

The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, framed the proposal as an effort to prevent home care workers from unionizing. It issued a statement from union member Melody Benjamin, an Illinois home care worker.

“Together, home care workers are making these poverty-wage jobs into a respected profession and we will not allow any special interest group or self-interested politicians to silence our voices or endanger the high quality care we provide,” Benjamin said in the statement.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that in-home care providers cannot be forced to pay union dues to qualify for Medicaid funds. That didn’t prevent states from collecting dues, this time indirectly, before the money reaches the provider.

In states such as Oregon and California, providers have only a 10-day window to opt out of paying the dues, according to the State Policy Network.

The top beneficiaries of the Medicaid deductions across the country are the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest unions representing public-sector employees, said Max Nelsen, director of labor policy at the Freedom Foundation, a conservative group in Washington state.

“The Supreme Court ruling [in Harris v. Quinn] helped. Previously, home care providers could be classified as state employees,” Nelsen told The Daily Signal. “What they are doing now is short of requirements, but still coercive. Unions just rewrote the membership forms and SEIU playbook after Harris.”

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 that public employees can’t be compelled to pay union dues or other fees. The high court ordered the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its 2017 decision rejecting a case brought by in-home care workers seeking to recoup Medicaid dollars.

It’s likely the ruling could have a significant impact on the Medicaid issue, said Thomas Jipping, a senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation.

“Janus was an expansive decision,” Jipping told The Daily Signal. “The Supreme Court has already told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit to reconsider its decision on the issue you raise.”

Mark Janus, an Illinois state worker, and other plaintiffs filed the case in light of the Harris ruling. While the Janus ruling would be helpful, it likely won’t have an immediate direct impact on the Medicaid rule change, Nelsen said.

“Janus had no direct impact on the unionization/dues collection practices for ‘partial-public employee’ home caregivers,” Nelsen said.

“There are some principles outlined in the Janus decision that may ultimately be helpful in reversing some union practices, but nothing that would categorically stop states from collecting union dues from caregivers’ Medicaid payments.”

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of union activists and supporters rally against the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case, in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, June 27, 2018 in New York City is by Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto/Sipa USA.