New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Coffee At Chick-fil-A (And Peet’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts) Instead Of Starbucks

Throughout the week, 2ndVote has urged conservative shoppers to make New Year’s consumer Resolutions. We’ve also vowed to work more closely with you to ensure that corporations are held accountable for how they spend your money. Today, we are asking you to make a final resolution in 2019: make the best possible choice when it comes to where you buy your coffee

As you know, Starbucks is the world’s largest coffee chain and a supporter of a slew of left-wing causes such as redefining marriage and sanctuary cities. Starbucks is also a financial supporter of abortion giant Planned Parenthood. Instead, consider getting your coffee from three other chains — Dunkin’ Donuts, Peet’s, and Chick-fil-A!

We are encouraging you to swap Starbucks for Dunkin’ DonutsPeet’s, and Chick-fil-A because they largely focus on you, the customer, instead of political activism. Dunkin’ Donuts’ ranks at a 2.7 out of 5 in 2ndVote’s rankings, Peet’s is a neutral 3, and Chick-fil-A ranks a 4. We are especially proud to endorse Chick-fil-A because of their well-known Christian values as well as their massive company growth which Business Insider concluded was due to amazing customer service.

2ndVote consumers won’t be alone in putting the brakes on Starbucks’ purchases in 2019. A recent stock market analysis concluded that Starbucks is facing stiff competition from other coffee chains. Competition plus 2ndVote consumer engagement could easily cause Starbucks significant heartache in the new year. Perhaps this will teach them to listen to customers all the time instead of when it’s politically convenient.

Help us continue developing this content to help conservative consumers hold companies accountable by becoming a 2ndVote Member today!

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by 2ndVote is republished with permission. The featured image is from Shutterstock.

Gun Controllers Want Credit Card Companies to Monitor and Restrict Lawful Purchases

Gun controllers frustrated that their federal agenda has been repeatedly rejected by Americans through their elected representatives are seeking to restrict gun rights by way of the private financial system. The goal is to pressure financial services companies into either not doing business with the firearms industry and gun owners or to comprehensively surveille their lawful activity.

On December 24, the gun confiscation supporters at the New York Times ran a thinly-veiled advocacy piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the news section, titled, “Devastating Arsenals, Bought With Plastic and Nary a Red Flag.” The piece outlined how some of the perpetrators of high-profile mass murders had purchased firearms and ammunition in the same manner that many ordinary law-abiding Americans do, with credit cards. 

The online edition of the piece carried the headline “How Banks Unwittingly Finance Mass Shootings,” suggesting that financial services companies were somehow complicit in violence by facilitating the exchange of lawful goods that were ultimately used for criminal purposes. Under such juvenile logic the U.S. Treasury Department should have to answer for all of the unlawful conduct they’ve facilitated by printing dollars and minting coins.

According to the misbranded op-ed, banks and other financial services companies are “uniquely positioned” to monitor gun owner purchasing habits. Under Sorkin’s preferred scenario, credit card companies would require retailers to tag firearms-related purchases with additional data that could be used by the credit card companies to compile information on gun owners. The surveillance data could then be used to flag suspicious purchases for law enforcement.

Moreover, the piece suggests that this data collection could be used to restrict certain types of lawful firearms transactions outright. Sorkin suggested,

Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods this year announced that they would not sell firearms to anyone under 21. If banks chose to use the systems they already have in place, they might decide to monitor such customers, perhaps preventing them from buying multiple guns in a short period of time.

To their credit, when asked for comment by the Times’s advocate, the major financial transaction firms expressed a reluctance to violate the privacy of their law-abiding customers. A Visa spokesperson explained, “We do not believe Visa should be in the position of setting restrictions on the sale of lawful goods or services… Asking Visa or other payment networks to arbitrate what legal goods can be purchased sets a dangerous precedent.” A Mastercard spokesperson added that the transaction company values the privacy of their customers’ “own purchasing decisions.”

Sorkin’s “news article” echoes many of the ideas he advocated in a February 2018 Times commentary. Making clear Sorkin has none of the objectivity on this topic one might have expected from a professional journalist pursuing a news story, the earlier piece overtly advocated for leveraging the private financial system to restrict firearms transactions. Sorkin contended that it would take “leadership and courage” on behalf of the financial services industry in order to implement his private firearms restrictions, which included a plan to eliminate commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms “from virtually every firearms store in America.” Were journalistic ethics as integral to the operation of the legacy press as those institutions purport, Sorkin’s authorship of the more recent item may have drawn interest of a forthright editor, ombudsman, or the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Sorkin article is just part of a wider-ranging effort to attack firearms owners through the financial system. In April 2018, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety expressed their support for increased credit card company surveillance of firearms transactions. Moreover, the anti-gun organization has developed “guidelines” for financial institutions doing business with the firearms industry. Under the guidelines, firearms manufacturers and retailers would be forced to adopt a host of gun control measures in order to do business with financial services providers.

In 2013, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice instituted Operation Chokepoint. Under the program, the DOJ leveraged the power of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to discourage banks from transacting with lawful businesses they deemed to be “associated with high-risk activity,” including members of the firearms industry.

The anti-gun proposals targeting credit card companies should be of grave concern to all gun owners. As the Federal Reserve regularly reports, consumer use of credit and debit cards is growing. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2017 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice reported that “[i]n October 2017, the period covered by this DCPC, consumers made most of their payments with cash (30.3 percent of payments), debit cards (26.2 percent), and credit cards (21.0 percent).”

The recent credit card proposals also prompt important questions. Under what a scenario would a gun owner’s purchases be flagged as suspicious or be outright denied? Might the criteria be defined by anti-gun activists to include any volume of firearms-related goods they consider deviant? Gun owners routinely purchase large quantities of firearms products and ammunition for the same reason consumers buy anything in bulk, to save money.

Moreover, gun owners should be aware that any increase in the information that the financial services companies collect may wind up in the federal government’s hands. A June 2013 item in the Wall Street Journal reported that the National Security Agency was scooping large quantities of data from credit card providers. At the time, experts speculated that the NSA would not be able to obtain the exact products an individual purchased, but could see where the purchases were made and the merchant category codes. Changing merchant category code data to be more descriptive is one of the ways control advocates intend to advance their credit card company gun control scheme.

Even those who do not value the right to keep and bear arms but do cherish their other civil liberties should be concerned with the recent credit card transaction proposals. Back in early 2018, when some of these ideas were first floated, Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin pointed out, “There’s a privacy angle here… There’s the slippery slope danger if it’s guns today maybe it is pornography tomorrow and the day after it’s right-wing literature.” 

And with even mainstream television fare such as “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Simpsons” having come under fire by today’s social justice vigilante mob, it’s difficult to imagine any product or service that could be immune from their perpetually outraged sensibilities.

New rules or surveillance procedures imposed by the credit card industry on firearms transactions would have a profound negative effect on gun owners and the firearms industry and pose a broader threat to all liberty-minded Americans. NRA will continue to monitor these efforts and keep our members apprised of any further developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by NRA-ILA is republished with permission.

Mass Transit Is a Colossal Government Failure

“Due to moderate gas prices, increasing auto ownership, and the growth of the ride-hailing industry, the nation likely reached ‘peak transit’ in 2014.”

I like subways and spent most of my adult life taking them to work. Unfortunately, most people prefer to drive. It can take an hour and a half to take buses and trains to work for a commute that would take only half an hour by car.

Mass transit is largely a failure and continues to decline despite growing subsidies to many mass transit systems. Light rail systems are white elephants. The money spent on light rail would be better spent on bus lines. The underground corridors used for some subways might better be devoted to self-driving cars.

Randal O’Toole describes just what a failure mass transit is in this country, a failure on every level, in a recent Cato Institute report:

Nationwide transit ridership has declined steadily since 2014, with some of the largest urban areas, including Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles, losing more than 20 percent of their transit riders in the last few years. While this recent decline is stunning, it results from a continuation of a century-long trend of urban areas becoming more dispersed and alternatives to transit becoming more convenient and less expensive.

Those trends include a dispersion of jobs away from downtowns and increasing automobile ownership, both of which began with Henry Ford’s development of the moving assembly line in 1913. As a result, per capita transit ridership peaked in 1920 at 287 trips per urban resident per year, and have since fallen to just 38 trips per urbanite in 2017.

Congress began federal subsidies to transit with passage of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, and since then federal, state, and local governments have spent well over $1 trillion on subsidies aimed at reversing transit’s decline. Yet those subsidies have failed to do more than slow the decline, as the trends that have made transit obsolete and nearly irrelevant to the vast majority of urban Americans have overwhelmed the subsidies….transit carries fewer than 3 percent of commuters to work in half the nation’s 50 largest urban areas, as well as in the vast majority of smaller ones, making transit nearly irrelevant to those regions except for the high taxes needed to support it. Due to moderate gas prices, increasing auto ownership, and the growth of the ride-hailing industry, the nation likely reached “peak transit” in 2014.

The supposed social, environmental, and economic development benefits of transit are negligible to nonexistent. Federal, state, and local governments should withdraw subsidies to transit and allow private operators to take over where the demand still justifies mass transit operations.

His very readable and interesting full report is at this link.

So-called bullet trains generally turn out to be white elephants. South Korea is abolishing its celebrated high-speed rail line from its capital, Seoul, to a nearby major city because it can’t cover even the marginal costs of keeping the trains running. Most people who ride trains don’t need maximum possible speed, and most of those who do will still take the plane to reach distant destinations.

Despite Japan’s much-vaunted bullet trains, most Japanese don’t take the bullet train either; they take buses because the bullet train is too expensive. Bullet trains do interfere with freight lines, so Japanese freight lines carry much less cargo than in the United States, where railroads—rather than trucks—carry most freight, thereby reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

California’s so-called bullet train is vastly behind schedule and over budget, and will likely never come close to covering its operating costs once it is built. As Reason magazine noted, transportation officials have warned that California’s misnamed “bullet train” is a disaster in the making. California is drastically understating the costs of its high-speed rail project. Just the first leg of this $77 billion project will cost billions more than budgeted. And the project is already at least 11 years behind schedule.

This article is reprinted from Liberty Unyielding.

COLUMN BY

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law.

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.

VIDEO: The Global Financial Reset – Trump, Money and the Fed

Will Johnson of INFOWARS Interviews John Michael Chambers and Dr. Kirk Elliott. PhD.

EDITORS NOTE: This video is republished with permission. The featured photo is by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Universal Basic Income Is a (Costly) Socialist Pipe Dream

It is the height of hypocrisy to ask the United States government, already USD $22 trillion in debt, to fund handing out free money to the entire nation.

Universal basic income has had a phenomenal year in 2018 when it comes to publicity. Silicon Valley billionaires, academics, and leftist politicians are raving about the brilliant new scheme, which we are told will prevent a Social Darwinist dystopian future in which average Joes everywhere stand to lose their low-functioning blue collar jobs to the grave perils of automation.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and one of the three wealthiest individuals in the world, is a big fan. He has emerged as a high-profile public cheerleader for the universal basic income scheme. During last year’s Harvard commencement address, the fanciful concept featured prominently: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Zuckerberg seems to miss something on a basic human nature level. It may be fashionable to promote a philosophy of egalitarianism. The reality, however, is that human beings are not equal in terms of ability or anything else. Under our constitutional system, human beings enjoy equal protection of our constitutional rights, but that hardly means we should expect equality of outcomes. And that is something the Silicon Valley pseudo-socialists will never understand.

It would be nice to believe that a universal basic income program would allow human beings to fully realize their potential. Young people with few opportunities would enjoy the economic freedom to become captains of industry, technological pioneers, and inventors, perhaps learning how to code in their free time, developing software programs, and founding the next major social media platform to compete with Facebook.

To say this is a fanciful notion is an understatement. There are human beings who are highly motivated. There are human beings who are incredibly lazy and unproductive. There are human beings with IQs of 130, and there are human beings with IQs of 70. What message will human beings take away from receiving a monthly check, with no strings attached, for USD $1,000…or $2,000, or $5,000? Will this usher in some golden new age of invention, of technological wonder, of allowing the teeming and downtrodden masses to realize their full potential?

Such a program has never been tried on a large scale, so there are no empirical results, except for small-scale test runs. A basic understanding of human nature, coupled with common sense, however, suggests that the UBI is not the golden panacea that a few starry-eyed Silicon Valley billionaires make it out to be.

Why should we reward human beings for doing nothing? Mark Zuckerberg is the rare technological genius who would spend his free time coding and developing his own social media platform. What about typical human beings? With a check in the mail each month for doing nothing, how many are now going to be “liberated” to work in what they really love, and how many are going to be encouraged to do nothing?

Setting aside human nature, for a moment, let’s take a look at the economics of a UBI program.

Surprise, surprise. They are phenomenally expensive to implement. Just doling out USD $1,000 a month to Americans would cost USD $3.8 trillion a year, according to a recent study by Bridgewater Associates. Well, golly, that’s a tab even Zuckerberg can’t pick up.

National and local governments across the world have been cutting funding for UBI programs in droves. They are expensive and wreak havoc on local budgets. Unsurprisingly, taxpayers (one would presume even of a left-wing bent) don’t take too kindly to funding such pilot programs, especially when they are not the beneficiaries of this state largesse.

Programs in both Canada and Finland have been shut down under political and budgetary pressure, which brings us to the point.

Zuckerberg can champion the idea of a UBI all he wants, but unless he and his Silicon Valley brethren are prepared to fund them personally, they will remain pipe dreams.

Even with an incredibly low-brow American public, ever more eager to get something for nothing through the smoke and mirrors of big government socialism, I believe Americans are intelligent enough to see through the farce of the basic income.

I have no problem with Mark Zuckerberg or other wealthy benefactors funding such programs and showing us their data—holding up the great successes for all the world to see. But it is the height of hypocrisy to ask the United States government, already USD $22 trillion in debt, to fund handing out free money to the entire nation.

This article was reprinted from PanAm Post.

COLUMN BY

David Unsworth

David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City. 

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission. The featured image by geralt on Pixabay.

The New Congress Is Here. 4 Debates to Monitor.

Democrats take control of the House of Representatives Thursday, starting a new era of divided government.

Here are four things to watch as the 116th Congress begins Thursday amid a government shutdown.

  1. Tension Between Progressives and Other Democrats

Democrats are set to vote Thursday on a rules package. While it’s supported by incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it’s already causing waves of opposition among other House Democrats.

The rules package would allow people to keep their religious headwear on in the House chamber as well as prohibit discrimination in regards to gender identity and sexual orientation.

It also contains a “pay-as-you-go” provision. Pay-go  “requires that any new legislation that increases deficits (whether through an increase in mandatory spending or decrease in revenues) must be fully offset by other increases in revenues or decreases in mandatory spending so that the new legislation does not add to the budget deficit,” according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Both Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have said they would vote against the rules package because of the pay-go element.

“I will be voting NO on the Rules package with #PayGo,” Khanna tweeted Wednesday. “It is terrible economics. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression. At some point, politicians need to learn from mistakes and read economic history.”

After Khanna’s tweet, Ocasio-Cortez also went public with her opposition.

Dani Doane, congressional programs director at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that the tension between progressives and other Democrats against Pelosi is only just beginning to surface.

“The challenges to Nancy Pelosi’s speakership will be greater in the 116th Congress compared to her last tenure,” Doane said. “The incoming Democrat class includes a small but vocal wing of hard-core progressives that will cause headaches across the Congress in their efforts to drag America to the left.”

But according to Pelosi’s daughter, she’s not one to flinch from fights.

Talking about her mother’s leadership style, Alexandra Pelosi, a filmmaker, told CNN Wednesday, “She’ll cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding.”

“That’s all you need to know about her.”

2. Will Mitt Romney Be ‘a Flake’?

After Mitt Romney published an op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday voicing his disappointment in the Trump administration and saying his presidency made a “deep descent,” last month, Trump fired back at Romney Wednesday.

“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast,” Trump tweeted. “Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on border security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t.”

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who chose not to run for re-election in 2018, was often very critical of Trump. The Arizona senator has said the president “cannot take criticism,” and “is charting a very dangerous path” for the country. Flake also refused to confirm judicial nominees at the end of 2018 unless the Senate had a vote on a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

In an interview on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he thinks Romney’s issue with Trump is personal.

“I can’t figure out why, strategically, he thought that was helpful to him. … I think Romney would like to be president now,” Gingrich said.

“Stylistically, they’re so different. I suspect every morning when Romney gets up he gets angry, just because Trump is so different than he is.”

Romney’s new colleague, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also weighed in with a tweet Wednesday:

3. Will Trump Get His $5 Billion for the Wall?

Trump is blaming the shutdown, which started at midnight on Dec. 21, on the Democrats.

“We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security,” Trump said Wednesday.

He also tweeted Wednesday that the “$5.6 billion dollars that House has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of national security,” and that the country would see a “quick payback” if given funding for the wall.

During part of an interview released Wednesday with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promised “nothing for the wall.”

NEW: “We can go through the back and forth. No. How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall,” Rep. Pelosi tells @SavannahGuthrie amid the government shutdown, as Democrats prepare to retake control of the House on Thursday.4,3904:18 PM – Jan 2, 20191,911 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

4. More Investigations Into Trump

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has promised to investigate Trump regarding “illicit foreign funding or involvement in the inauguration,” per The Washington Post,

“Whenever a foreign nation uses its financial wealth to violate the laws of our country, it undermines our democracy,” Schiff said in a December statement. “When another country does so in concert with U.S. persons, it carries the additional risk of compromising them and presents a particularly acute counterintelligence risk.”

Schiff even went so far as to say Trump could potentially spend time in jail.

“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. … He may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” Schiff said Dec. 9 on “Face the Nation.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, who will head the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Trump needs more accountability.

“Right now, we have a president who is accountable to no one,” Cummings, D-Md., told CNN.

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.

The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Signal is republished with permission. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters /Newscom.

Why California’s 1% Dip in Homelessness Is No “Success Story”

If my friends on the left see this as an example of success, I’d hate to see their definition of failure.

I often write about the failure of government.

In other words, there’s lots of evidence that government spending makes things worse.

Needless to say, this puts a lot of pressure on folks who favor bigger government. They desperately want to find any type of success story so they can argue that increasing the size and scope of the public sector generates some sort of payoff.

And they got their wish. Check out the ostensibly good news in a story from the San Fransisco Chronicle:

Investing billions of dollars in affordable housing and homeless programs in recent years has apparently put the brakes on what had been a surge in California’s homeless population, causing it to dip by 1 percent this year, a federal report released Monday showed. …The report put California’s homeless population this year at 129,972, a drop of 1,560 in the number of people on the streets in 2017. …“I think San Francisco has shown that when targeted investments are made, we see reductions in homelessness here,” [Jeff Kositsky, head of the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing], said. He pointed out that family, youth and chronic veterans homelessness dropped in the city’s last full count — although the number of chronically homeless people went up.

Maybe I’m not in the Christmas spirit, but I don’t see this as a feel-good story.

Are we really supposed to celebrate the fact that the government spent “billions of dollars,” and the net effect is that the homeless population dropped just 1 percent?

The story doesn’t contain enough details for precise measurements, but even if we assume “billions” is merely $2 billion, then it cost taxpayers close to $1.3 million to get one person off the street. For that amount of money, taxpayers could have bought each of them a mansion!

In other words, the program has been a rotten investment. Heck, it makes Social Security seem like a good deal by comparison.

To be sure, maybe the number isn’t quite so bad because we’re comparing multi-year outlays with a one-year change in the homeless population, though it’s possible the number is even worse because taxpayers actually coughed up far more than $2 billion.

The bottom line is that if my friends on the left see this as an example of success, I’d hate to see their definition of failure.

This article was reprinted with permission from International Liberty.

COLUMN BY

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist 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. 

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE, with images, is republished with permission. Image credit: Pixabay

Advertisers Cower as Libs Gin up Attacks on Tucker Carlson

“Approximately 20” companies have caved to pressure from liberal groups and pulled or suspended advertising from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show after the host’s recent statements about immigration:

“We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided,” he said at the start of his program last week. “Immigration is an act of atonement. Previous leaders of our country committed sins. We must pay for those sins by welcoming an endless chain of migrant caravans.”

While many immigrants seek the American Dream, policies that encourage illegal immigration such as open borders and sanctuary cities undermine the rule of law. Furthermore, unchecked immigration is an invitation for chaos and a significant detriment to the social fabric of our nation — for example, the higher serious crime rates by illegal immigrants as compared to native-born Americans and legal immigrants.

Not surprisingly, the campaign to push companies away from Carlson’s show is led by leftist hack website Media Matters — an organization funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. According to Media Matters, advertisements on a network covering a different viewpoint on immigration policy amounts to “sponsoring fascism.” Of course, Pacific Life, who is “pausing” ads, continues to support pro-abortion organizations, while Media Matters convenient ignores the historical role of abortion in the eugenics philosophies promulgated by real, actual fascists. The abortion industry is also complicit in enabling human traffickers who prey on vulnerable immigrants.

Do companies like Pacific Life support the abortion industry’s attack on immigrants? The virtue signaling over Carlson’s comments is outrageously hypocritical when corporate bank accounts directly fund the destruction of life, particularly in immigrant communities. This means 2ndVoters must work harder to engage these companies through direct contact and by holding them accountable with your dollars.

Will you educate Pacific Life today on their hypocrisy? Reach out using the button below:

Send Pacific Life an Email!


Help us continue providing resources like this and educating conservative shoppers by becoming a 2ndVote Member today!


EDITORS NOTE: The column with images by 2ndVote is republished with permission. The featured photo is from Shutterstock.

What Would Actually Be Affected in a Government Shutdown

“Government shutdown.” Probably no two words strike more fear in the hearts of Washington politicians.

The fact that another shutdown is imminent is a sign of how dysfunctional Washington’s budgeting process really is. What was once an orderly process where timelines were largely met has morphed into a political game plagued by brinkmanship and out-of-control spending.

Despite promises from Congress that the process would be different this year, here we are again.

This time the biggest issue holding up a deal is a confrontation between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over border security funding.

As Congress barrels toward a Friday spending showdown, the potential of a partial government shutdown is very real. But what would it actually mean?

A shutdown wouldn’t be good, of course, but it’s not as scary as you think. There wouldn’t be lawlessness in the streets. You’d still get your Social Security check.

Here’s what a shutdown and an alternative might look like:

Government Shutdown

If Congress and the president are unable to reach an agreement by Friday, then the federal government will enter into a partial shutdown. Five of 12 annual spending bills became law in September. That includes the military, so there is no threat to national defense.

It also includes the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Interior, and Veterans Affairs. In fact, 75 percent of the discretionary budget has already been funded through September 2019.

Still, a partial shutdown would mean that major federal agencies such as the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, State, and Transportation would be left without funding.

Many of the services they provide, however, would not be interrupted. Four hundred and twenty thousand “essential” federal employees would continue to work, including 41,000 law enforcement and correctional officers and up to 88 percent of DHS employees. America’s safety would not be sacrificed.

You shouldn’t worry about your benefit payments being impacted either. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments, as well as veterans benefits, would continue uninterrupted. These programs don’t rely on Congress taking action for annual funding to continue, or their appropriations were already passed into law.

Mail service would also continue as scheduled since the Postal Service has its own revenue stream. National parks would remain open, though with reduced staff.

About 380,000 federal employees would be furloughed for the duration of a shutdown, meaning that they wouldn’t be paid nor expected to work. Agencies that would be most affected include the Department of Commerce, NASA, the IRS, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Based on past government shutdowns, all furloughed employees would likely be paid when the shutdown ends.

A Continuing Resolution

Another possible outcome to get around the current funding impasse is for Congress to pursue a continuing resolution to keep the government open. That scenario played out as the last funding deadline approached on Dec. 7.

Under this situation, agencies would operate at their 2018 budget levels for the duration of the continuing resolution. Congress could choose to extend funding for a short period of time (likely into early 2019) or could opt for a full-year continuing resolution.

If Congress passes a short-term continuing resolution, then it would be back in the same mess in just a few short weeks.

Passing a full-year continuing resolution would put an end to the budget drama for this year. However, it would also leave both Republicans and Democrats unsatisfied, with Trump not getting additional border security money and Democrats unable to enact some of their priorities.

But it would save taxpayers money. If unfunded agencies simply continued to receive money at the 2018 level, it would cut spending by $11 billion.

It’s not a lot, but with the national debt soon expected to cross $22 trillion, every penny counts.

Regardless of what happens, one thing is clear: The budget process is broken, and taxpayers are the real losers. When Congress is constantly budgeting by crisis, it erodes oversight and leads to wasteful spending. Citizens should demand that Congress not only make the budget process better, but also ensure a sustainable budget future.

The cost of failing to do that is much scarier than a government shutdown.

Originally Distributed by Tribune News Service

COMMENTARY BY


The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now


EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Signal is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash.

Know Your Move: 5 Effective Ways to Get a Successful Mortgage

Applying for a loan might be difficult for some people, especially for first-time applicants. People who are planning to apply for a loan for the first time often get confused or nervous because they don’t know what to do to get a successful loan. Knowing this kind of matter is a big advantage for anyone who wants to have strong credit.

Loans are a critical factor, especially for those who don’t have enough saving to start a business or fund an investment. People who apply for loans need to follow specific steps for them to be successful in applying for a mortgage. If you want to know more about this matter, you can try following these 5 efficient ways to get a successful loan.

Work On Your Credit Score

The first thing you have to do is to work on your credit score for you to get a successful loan. You have to make sure that your credit report is always accurate and that you don’t have bad records in the past for you to be able to apply for a loan. Lenders will be checking your credit score to see if there’s any problem in your application.

You can check your credit score in some sites for you to get an idea of what is its current status. If you’re interested in applying for a mortgage, you can try searching the web for some reliable sites. You can also try calling companies such as Pinsky mortgage brokers in Vancouver and some other companies for further details.

Budget Your Money Well And Paying Your Debts

Money lending company will not approve your application once it sees that you’re incapable of paying the monthly payments. Lenders will also check your bank statements to see if you’re paying your debts regularly. Paying your debts on a regular basis is a big yes for money lenders as they’ll know that you’re a responsible person.

Budgeting your money well is also a good move for you to save up money. Extra saving can be used to pay off some of your debts so that when a company is going to assess your credit score, they will know that you’ve been paying your bills on time with no delays. Paying debts and saving money are two of the things you should always do.

Organize the Papers Needed For Application

Organizing things is always a good move. In this way, applying for a loan will be much easier because you won’t have to worry about anything since you made sure that everything is arranged and set in the first place. You will be asked to bring in some necessary papers as part of your requirements. Organizing everything will make your application much more accessible and much more relaxed.

You will need to prepare your ID, proof of your address, passport, and driving license. Make sure that everything is up to date and correct. They will also check your payslips and bank statements. Everything needed is legal so if you’re planning to get a mortgage, make sure all your papers are organized and updated.

Talk And Hire Experts

Asking advice from experts can be a big help in applying for a loan. Knowing the right steps can help you make things easier. Look for a mortgage broker to assist you in this kind of matter. Brokers like these are also known as financial advisers. Having your mortgage broker can improve your chances of being approved in the loan application you applied.

Mortgage brokers do their best to give you the right rates that will suit your budget. They will guide you throughout the process. They check first if your financial status is stable before giving you any recommendations.

Keeping Things Steady

Lending companies like applicants who have stable financial resources. They see into account if you’re easy to track, you’re stable, and if you’re reliable. If you want the application to be successful, you only need to have a stable and suitable job. You also have to be truthful in your accounts, without having any delinquencies.

You should plan everything first before applying for one. You should always make sure that you won’t have to worry about anything in the future before you decide on taking a loan. Being responsible and reliable at the same time can help you achieve the loan you’re aiming.

Takeaway

Applying for a mortgage or any form of loan might be a little hard at first. Hence, you have to make sure you’re ready enough to take on big decisions like these. You should also consider asking for help from your family and friends for you not to worry too much in applying for a loan.

Being responsible is also the key for you to be successful in applying for a loan. Always pay your debts in time and make sure you don’t have any bad reputations when it comes to matters like this to make your application much more manageable.

The Conceit Behind California’s Bad Idea to Tax Text Messages

State bureaucrats are moving to impose a texting tax on California residents in the name of providing mobile services to the poor.


California routinely makes national headlines for its big government policies. This week is no different, as bureaucrats move to impose a texting tax on state residents in the name of providing mobile services to the poor.

In a November proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission, Commissioner Carla J. Peterman laid out the “proposed decision” exploring the potential effectiveness of the tax.

According to that 52-page report, California’s budget continues to increase even as tax revenues fall:

“A review of California’s total reported intrastate telecommunications industry revenue, which is used to fund universal service, shows a steady decline in revenue from $16.527 Billion in 2011 to $11.296 Billion in 2017. At the same time, California Public Purpose Program budgets show a steady increase from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million in 2017…”

California’s Public Purpose program, which adds a surcharge to consumers’ bills for utilities like gas in order to provide universal services to those who can’t afford them, would be tasked with facilitating the proposed text tax. And though the analysis refers to “industry revenue,” the funds would come from taxing individual wireless customers.

Mercury News, a San Jose-based news outlet, noted that while it is still unclear how much consumers would be forced to pay, the fee would “likely would be billed as a flat surcharge per customer” as opposed to a per-text rate.

While the Commission’s analysis acknowledges opposing arguments—including carrier companies’ assertions that the tax “would not preserve and advance universal service because it does not broaden the base of universal service consumers”—the commission ultimately advocated the additional tax burden.

Parties supporting the collection of surcharges on text messaging revenue argue that it will help preserve and advance universal service by increasing the revenue base upon which Public Purpose Programs rely,” they write. “We agree.”

Business advocacy groups like the Bay Area Council, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group estimated that the proposed tax could generate $44.5 million in tax revenue per year. However, “they add that under the regulators’ proposal the charge could be applied retroactively for five years—which they call ‘an alarming precedent’—and could amount to a bill of more than $220 million for California consumers,” Mercury News reports.

“It’s a dumb idea,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council business advocacy group. “This is how conversations take place in this day and age, and it’s almost like saying there should be a tax on the conversations we have.”

Wunderman also questioned the necessity of additional taxes, referencing California’s current budget surplus:

“While perhaps well-intentioned, the specific programs that the commissioners are hoping to fund with your tax dollars already has around $1 billion to spend. These programs are not in need of greater funding from texting or any other source, and even if they were, there is already an approved, transparent process at the commission to raise the necessary funds without the need to create new taxes.”

Further, the proposed fees make even less sense considering the rise in popularity of internet-based messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, and Telegram, which would not be subject to the tax. In fact, the tax could very well push consumers further toward these internet-based apps to avoid extra costs.

The November document is not legally binding, but it does assert the Commission’s alleged power to impose a texting tax.

Whether or not the proposed tax becomes actual policy come January, the simple fact that it has been suggested at all illustrates the misguided yet pervasive belief in California that government omnipotence can create prosperity.

It’s precisely this type of thinking that has caused the Golden State to squander one of the largest economies in the world, driving away businesses and individuals alike and inflating costs of living with the imposition of convoluted, interventionist policies. Because of restrictive zoning laws and bureaucratic regulations that make housing inaccessible to the middle class and the poor, for example, California continues to claim the highest rate of poverty in the country despite the billions of dollars it spends on welfare and social services.

Despite the best—and heavy-handed—efforts of politicians and bureaucrats, the people they claim to represent continue to suffer under their policies. This should all come as no surprise. As economist Friedrich von Hayek observed:

“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”

COLUMN BY

Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler is a video blogger and Senior Editor for Anti-Media.

RELATED VIDEO: The Spending Monkeys.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by JESHOOTS-com on Pixabay.

The Case for Privatizing Social Security Just Got Stronger

A new OECD report highlights some of the economic benefits of private retirement systems.


The world is in the middle of a dramatic demographic transition caused by increasing lifespans and falling birthrates.

One consequence of this change is that traditional tax-and-transfer, pay-as-you-go retirement schemes (such as Social Security in the United States) are basically bankrupt.

The problem is so acute that even the normally statist bureaucrats at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are expressing considerable sympathy for reforms that would allow much greater reliance on private savings (shifting to what is known as “funded” systems).

Countries should introduce funded arrangements gradually… Policymakers should carefully assess the transition as it may put an additional, short-term, strain on public finances… Tax rules should be straightforward, stable and consistent across all retirement savings plans. …Countries with an “EET” tax regime should maintain the deferred taxation structure… Funded, private pensions may be expected to support broader economic growth and accelerate the development of local capital markets by creating a pool of pension savings that must be invested. The role of funded, private pensions in economic development is likely to become more important still as countries place a higher priority on the objective of labour force participation. Funded pensions increase the incentive to work and save and by encouraging older workers to stay in the labour market they can help to address concerns about the sustainability and adequacy of public PAYG pensions in the face of demographic changes.

Here’s a chart from the OECD report. It shows that many developed nations already have fully or partly privatized systems.

By the way, I corrected a glaring mistake. The OECD chart shows Australia as blue. I changed it to white since they have a fully private Social Security system Down Under.

The report highlights some of the secondary economic benefits of private systems.

Funded pensions offer a number of advantages compared to PAYG pensions. They provide stronger incentives to participate in the labor market and to save for retirement. They create a pool of savings that can be put to productive use in the broader economy. Increasing national savings or reallocating savings to longer-term investment supports the development of financial markets. …More domestic savings reduces dependency on foreign savings to finance necessary investment. Higher investment may lead to higher productive capacity, increasing GDP, wages and employment, higher tax revenues and lower deficits.

Here’s the chart showing that countries with private retirement systems are among the world leaders in pension assets.

The report highlights some of the specific nations and how they benefited.

Over the long term, transition costs may be at least partially offset by additional positive economic effects associated with introducing private pensions rather than relying solely on public provision. …poverty rates have declined in Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland since mandatory funded pensions were introduced. The initial transformation of Poland’s public PAYG system into a multi-pillar DC approach helped to encourage Warsaw’s development as a financial centre. …the introduction of funded DC pensions in Chile encouraged the growth of financial markets and provided a source of domestic financing.

For those seeking additional information on national reforms, I’ve written about the following jurisdictions.

At some point, I also need to write about the Singaporean system, which is one of the reasons that nation is so successful.

P.S. Needless to say, it would be nice if the United States was added to this list at some point. Though I won’t be holding my breath for any progress while Trump is in the White House.

This International Liberty article was republished with permission.

COLUMN BY

Our Ignorance of Socialism Is Dangerous

A recent Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation survey found that 51 percent of American millennials would rather live in a socialist or communist country than in a capitalist country. Only 42 percent prefer the latter.

Twenty-five percent of millennials who know who Vladimir Lenin was view him favorably. Lenin was the first premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Half of millennials have never heard of communist Mao Zedong, who ruled China from 1949 to 1959 and was responsible for the deaths of 45 million Chinese people.

The number of people who died at the hands of Josef Stalin may be as high as 62 million. However, almost one-third of millennials think former President George W. Bush is responsible for more killings than Stalin.

By the way, Adolf Hitler, head of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, was responsible for the deaths of about 20 million people. The Nazis come in as a poor third in terms of history’s most prolific mass murderers. According to professor Rudolph Rummel’s research, the 20th century, mankind’s most brutal century, saw 262 million people’s lives destroyed at the hands of their own governments.

Young people who weren’t alive during World War II and its Cold War aftermath might be forgiven for not knowing the horrors of socialism. Some of their beliefs represent their having been indoctrinated by their K-12 teachers and college professors.

There was such leftist hate for Bush that it’s not out of the question that those 32 percent of millennials were taught by their teachers and professors that Bush murdered more people than Stalin.

America’s communists, socialists, and Marxists have little knowledge of socialist history. Bradley Birzer, a professor of history at Hillsdale College, explains this in an article for The American Conservative titled “Socialists and Fascists Have Always Been Kissing Cousins.”

Joseph Goebbels wrote in 1925, “It would be better for us to end our existence under Bolshevism than to endure slavery under capitalism.” This Nazi sentiment might be shared by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his comrade Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Goebbels added, “I think it is terrible that we and the communists are bashing in each other’s heads.”

When the tragedies of socialist regimes—such as those in Venezuela, the USSR, China, Cuba, and many others—are pointed out to America’s leftists, they hold up Sweden as their socialist role model. But they are absolutely wrong about Sweden.

Johan Norberg points this out in his documentary “Sweden: Lessons for America?” Americans might be surprised to learn that Sweden’s experiment with socialism was a relatively brief flirtation, lasting about 20 years and ending in disillusionment and reform.

Reason magazine reports:

Sweden began rolling back government in the early 1990s, recapturing the entrepreneurial spirit that made it a wealthy country to begin with. High taxation and a generous array of government benefits are still around. But now it’s also a nation of school vouchers, free trade, open immigration, light business regulation, and no minimum wage laws.

School vouchers, light business regulation, and no minimum wage laws are practices deeply offensive to America’s leftists.

Our young people are not the first Americans to admire tyrants and cutthroats. W.E.B. Du Bois, writing in the National Guardian in 1953, said, “Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature.” Walter Duranty called Stalin “the greatest living statesman” and “a quiet, unobtrusive man.”

There was even leftist admiration for Hitler and fellow fascist Benito Mussolini. When Hitler came to power in January 1933, George Bernard Shaw described him as “a very remarkable man, a very able man.” President Franklin Roosevelt called Mussolini “admirable,” and he was “deeply impressed by what he [had] accomplished.”

In 1972, John Kenneth Galbraith visited communist China and praised Mao and the Chinese economic system. His Harvard University colleague John K. Fairbank believed that America could learn much from the Cultural Revolution, saying, “Americans may find in China’s collective life today an ingredient of personal moral concern for one’s neighbor that has a lesson for us all.”

Are Americans who admire the world’s most brutal regimes miseducated or stupid? Or do they have some kind of devious agenda?

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Walter E. Williams

Walter E. Williams is a columnist for The Daily Signal and a professor of economics at George Mason University. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Sweden’s Ugly Ultraliberalism and the Jews


The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/Newscom.

Mr. Trump, Shut Down That Government!

Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of a political game of chicken between competing views for the future of our country.  And once again, the ones who are stuck in the middle are the American people.

This time, the battle of wills is over the funding of the wall to our southern border.  President Trump wants $5 billion allocated to the wall’s construction.  The Democrats, on the other hand, have said they are wiling to commit $1.6 billion to the wall, and not a penny more.

In the meantime, the nation is being exposed to the reality of an immigration crisis Democrats and the mainstream media said did not exist and now vainly argue is due to the President’s new policies on immigration.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear; the only reason we find ourselves in the midst of an immigration crisis of this magnitude is because of the decades of ineptitude and incompetence by Congress in not providing the resources and personnel needed to definitively seal the border.

Enter President Donald J. Trump.  President Trump has been one of the few ferocious advocates for border control.  One of his central and most important planks to his platform is the building of the border wall and the definitive eradication of illegal immigration.  In fact, a Harvard/Harris poll from August 1, 2018, showed that 76% of the American people want border security, and with the impact of the images and goings-on related to the Central American caravan, that number has likely crept up even higher.

Amazingly, the Republican members of Congress who are now entering the waning days of their control of all three steeples of power do not seem to have the resolve to push a $5 billion allocation for border wall funding to the president’s desk. The purported reasons are as varied as they are hollow.  We can’t afford it they say.  Walls are a terrible way to maintain security, and there are other, more effective ways of securing our border.

No one is saying that the border wall should be built at the expense of not funding other complementary measures of promoting border security.  Quite the opposite, Congress should be funding every possible avenue designed to help ensure the security and safety of America’s borders.  Why the Republican-led Congress cannot get a bill to the president’s desk designing and funding a permanent, virtually impenetrable solution for our border security inclusive of the construction of an effective wall against southern migrants defies reality.

In the meantime, President Trump, who is one of the few who understands the gravity of this situation, has demonstrated his resolve to see the implementation of effective border security policy by expressing his willingness shutdown the government if the wall is not funded.  The response by some has been to dare him to do it.

Just like during the Obama administration, opponents and members of the swamp have predicted that the earth will end and the skies will rain down fire and fury if the federal government is allowed to go unfunded even for ten minutes. Unfortunately for the doomsayers, we have already seen that the negative effects of shutting down the federal government are not that terrible.  As a matter of fact, about the most visible consequence of the last shutdown was President Obama’s vengeful closure of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., at the same time that a group of Honor Flight participants arrived to be honored for their incredible, patriotic service during World War II.

Recognizing that the consequences of a government shutdown are not as harrowing as the swamp and the mainstream media would like us to believe, the next fear-mongering argument to be made is the threat of a political meltdown.  Here again, the doomsayers are wrong.

First, let us recall that the one who closed the government during the Obama era was the Republican Congress.  If anything, even if we were to accept the doomsayers’ political fallout prediction, it was Congress that lost against the President, a fact that actually favors President Trump.

Moreover, as opposed to the shutdown during the Obama administration where the issue was spending, the overwhelming majority of the American public side with the President on immigration reform, and enthusiastically so.  No reasonable observer can cast aspersions to the President’s position on immigration and the urgency with which the issue needs to be definitively resolved.  If a confrontation were to take place, it is the President who is in the position of strength on this issue and positioned to gain.

President Trump is right on immigration, and he should demand cooperation from the Congress, even if enforcing his demand results in a government shutdown.  In the end, he will win, and more importantly, so will the American people.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. The featured photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash.

Top 8 Women In Cryptocurrency [INFOGRAPHIC]

Women in Cryptocurrency?

The following infographic is all about the top 8 women in Cryptocurrency.

  1. Joyce Kim
  2. Perianne Boring
  3. Amber Baldet
  4. Jinglan Wang
  5. Jen Greyson
  6. Fahima Anwar
  7. Meltem Demirors
  8. Raine Revere

This column is courtesy of MrBTC.org.