Blinking Lights Project

“One night we asked people to blink their lights if they believed in freedom for Poland.  We went to the window, and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking.”  

Over the last 25 years, leaders in the free market movement have stressed the need for sound public-policy research and basic economic education. Though important, they are proving to be insufficient to overcome trends that are eroding our liberties. Why?

The missing focus is on personal character.

The Blinking Lights Project is a new effort at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) designed to highlight and emphasize the vital link between personal character and a free society.

In America’s first century, strong personal character kept our liberties substantially intact without the need for think tanks, policy research, and economic education. Americans from all walks of life generally opposed the expansion of government power not because they read policy studies or earned degrees in economics, but because they placed a high priority on character. Using government to get something at somebody else’s expense, or mortgaging the future for near-term gain, seemed dishonest and cynical to them, if not downright wrong.

A free society is impossible without character because bad character leads to bad economics, which is bad for liberty. Ultimately, whether we live free or stumble in the dark thrall of serfdom is a matter of our individual character.

The Blinking Lights Project at FEE connects character, liberty and economics. On this webpage you will find resources designed to explain that connection. We are launching this project by offering the inspirational movie Amazing Grace, numerous written articles, videos and recorded webinars.

If you find these resources helpful, please share them with your family and friends. Our future depends on it.

Why is it called the Blinking Lights Project?

It stems from an experience Lawrence Reed had back in 1986, when he took a trip behind the Iron Curtain to visit freedom-fighters in communist-run Poland.

There he met with Zbigniew and Sofia Romaszewski, two brave dissidents who had just been released from prison because of their work to spread the word of liberty.

They had run an underground radio station that communicated the truths that the state-controlled media wouldn’t let their people hear.  They could only broadcast eight to ten minutes at a time before moving their location to stay ahead of the police.

Lawrence asked them “how did you know people were listening?”  So they told him something he’ll never forget:

“One night we asked people to blink their lights if they believed in freedom for Poland.  We went to the window, and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking.”  

Those blinking lights were a harbinger of freedom to come for Poland, as just three years later the Iron Curtain fell and Eastern Europe was freed from communist oppression.

Here is Lindy Vopnfjörð’s song inspired by the story:

Are We Good Enough for Liberty?

Without Character, A Free Society Is Not Just Unlikely . . . It’s Impossible.

“Ravaged by conflict, corruption, and tyranny, the world is starving for people of character.

Indeed, as much as anything, it is on this matter that the fate of individual liberty has always depended.

A free society flourishes when people seek to be models of honor, honesty, and propriety at whatever the cost in material wealth, social status, or popularity. It descends into barbarism when they abandon what’s right in favor of self- gratification at the expense of others; when lying, cheating, or stealing are winked at instead of shunned.

If you want to be free, if you want to live in a free society, you must assign top priority to raising the caliber of your character and learning from those who already have it in spades.

Read more.

If you do not govern yourself, you will be governed.” —Lawrence W. Reed

For parents and the rising generation, an important lesson told in forceful and persuasive speech. The barbarians are now at our gates. Will we respond?

Download this book as a:

PDF
ePub
Mobi

Amazing Grace

“Most inspiring movie!  I’ll carry this passion with me for a long time.  It will be my work to pass this on to my students.”  – 5th grade teacher

One initiative that we’re pleased to announce as part of this project is our Amazing Grace initiative. Thanks to Walden Media, we are able to offer free copies of this film, along with a brief pamphlet including discussion questions. Our hope is that this film will help promote discussion of the importance of individual character in a free society.

Module Overview

Lawrence Reed on Liberty and Character:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/iHwyGkYKa5s[/youtube]

Recommended reading:

The Character of Edward Snowden
What Doesn’t Kill You
The Story of Nicholas Winton
Are We Rome?
A Tribute to the Polish People
Character, Liberty, and Economics
A Student’s Essay That Changed the World
Joseph P. Overton: Character for a Free Society
An Inspiration for All Time

The Progressive Destruction of the U.S. dollar

Barack Obama is the final piece of the map in the progressive movement’s century of steady destruction of the U.S. dollar, income taxation, and massive, liberal intrusion into the lives of all Americans from birth to death.

An excellent analysis of this is found in “The Great Withdrawal: How the Progressive’s 100-Year Debasement of American and the Dollar Ends” by Craig R. Smith and Lowell Ponte ($19.95, Idea Factory Press, Phoenix, Arizona). Together they have written eight books on economic topics.

There is a great backlash to the Obama administration’s efforts to impose a socialist economy on America in which the federal government essentially controls all elements of it. The most recent and dramatic example is Obamacare, the takeover of one sixth of the economy. The Tea Party movement emerged to protest it in 2009 and has steadily grown as a political movement.

Their protest march on Washington, D.C. that year drew nearly a million or more Americans.

In 2010 the movement was instrumental in returning power to the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. If the political pundits are right, the forthcoming November midterm elections will remove many of the Democrats who voted for it and may also return power to the GOP in the Senate. The elections are critical to thwarting Obama’s further efforts to destroy the nation by adding millions to its many welfare programs as the result of its failure to increase economic growth from a dismal 2% per year, the lowest in decades. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan took office and reversed recessions. Obama has not.

“Either we successfully reboot the original operating system of individual freedom, free enterprise, and small government that America’s Framers built into the U.S. Constitution or the Progressives will by manipulation and force continue to impose their failed collectivist ideas on humankind’s future,” writes Smith in the introduction to his book. Make no mistake about it, “collective ideas” is another way of describing Communism, often referred to as Socialism.

“They aim to replace Capitalism, private property, ‘selfish’ individualism and God with a human-made Eden, a utopian humanist society where an all-powerful State would equally redistribute the world’s wealth and power to the working elite.”

Consider just five ways progressivism has impacted America; (1) abortion that has killed more than 55.7 million fetuses since 1973, (2) banning prayer to support the development of moral values in schools, (3) the spread of same-sex marriage as a legal definition of marriage, (4) the movement to legalize marijuana, a known gateway drug, and (5) a culture filled with films and television that exploit violence and sex.

The Utopian dream has been the creation of intellectuals who view themselves as an elite group who should control economies and lives. The failure of the former Soviet Union and the adoption of Communism in China are prime examples of this elitist notion which, as history has demonstrated, includes the murder of hundreds of millions in the process. Progressivism depends on the use of force.

Noting the stalled economic growth in the U.S. Wall Street Journal columnist, Daniel Henniger, addressed the global implications on Feb 26. “If the American economic engine slows permanently to about 2%, you’re going to see more fires around the world like Ukraine and Venezuela. At the margin, the world’s weakest, most misgoverned countries will pop, and violently.”

Craig points out that “More than 100 years ago, these collectivist ideas began to dominate Western civilization. In 1913 they took control of the United States government and began a ‘fundamental transformation’ of our economy, politics, culture and beliefs that continues today.”

The good news, however, “The Progressive collectivist vision today is dying and its death will cause huge changes in our world.” The anger that gave rise to the Tea Party movement is emerging as a widespread desire for national change. Efforts to downgrade the freedoms embodies in our Bill of Rights are generating major resistance.

“The various collectivisms may still pose a military, political or economic threat as their power wanes—but fewer and fewer people take the Left seriously as an ideology anymore. History has thoroughly discredited the Left as both a moral and practical failure” says Smith, adding that “the trouble is, many have likewise lost faith in the values that once made the West great—Judeo-Christian values and belief, free enterprise and the individual rights of the Enlightenment…Millions of Americans have become hooked, dependent on the entitlement state and on the paper money conjured out of thin air.”

There are signs, though, of change. “As of August 2013, polls found that only 35 percent of Americans supported President Obama’s economic policies, a rating similar to President Herbert Hoover’s after the start of the Great Depression. He is destroying the confidence needed to encourage investment in new jobs or to expand businesses.” More recent polls indicate Obama’s performance in office is rating poorly.

We are witnessing the way the Progressive movement works. “When the economy is good, they raise taxes and expand government. When the economy cycle turns negative, the politicians blame others, refuse to reduce government—and, increasingly, use the bad economy as a reason for expanding government and spending even more.”

That is why Obama’s policies have added $6 trillion dollars to the national debt and expanded government welfare programs. At $17 trillion and growing, it is a massive threat to the economy and to a government that depends on borrowing money to pay its bills. The downgrade of the nation’s credit rating—the first in the nation’s history—is a major warning sign if this is not reversed by electing politicians who want to reduce the debt and the size of the government.

Thomas Jefferson said the future of the nation depended on binding those in power “with the chains of the Constitution”, but we have a President who now routinely ignores those limits and wants to rule independent of the legislative branch, Congress, and refuses to enforce existing laws or changes them unilaterally, an issue the judicial branch increasingly is addressing.

America needs a major revision to the progressive income tax system that began in 1913. It needs to end the Federal Reserve’s (a cartel of banks) control of the economy and its creation of money “out of thin air.” It needs to return to the gold standard to back the value of the dollar. It needs to end the Department of Education’s grip on the curriculum that has indoctrinated the generations since the 1960s to accept Big Government. It needs to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and return this responsibility to the States. These and other measures must be implemented to return the nation to greatness.

Progressive politics and policies have reversed the greatness of America making it the exceptional nation it was before they were imposed a century ago. That is the challenge of the current and future American generations.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

The President’s Science and where he gets it

There are a lot of people who comment on climate change and global warming, both in blogs and in the com-media (as Dr. Krauthammer refers to the Media, most of whom are, indeed, comedic – if you find arrogant stupidity funny).

I’m sorry to say that the Obama Administration’s highest ranking authority on matters of Science, Dr. John Holdren, is a disgrace to his position as Chair of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). I say so in defense – not that he needs my defense – of Prof Roger Pielke Jr, a professor at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Prof Pielke maintains an online blog: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/

which I commend to you as a reliable source of information. Prof Pielke testified in Summer 2013, with other scientists, before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. In February, 2014, Dr. Holdren contradicted Prof Pielke’s testimony to the committee, dismissing Prof Pielke as being “…outside the scientific mainstream” as regards a link between climate change and extreme weather. Pielke denied such a link, a link often claimed by Holdren and President Obama himself. During his February golf trip to California, President Obama directly blamed the drought there on climate change. As Pielke says:

The bottom line here is that this is an extremely poor showing by the president’s science adviser. It is fine for experts to openly disagree. But when a political appointee uses his position not just to disagree on science or policy but to seek to delegitimize a colleague, he has gone too far.

It’s amusing that Holdren was previously close to Teresa and John Kerry. I guess we know where Secretary Kerry gets his knowledge of environmental policy. It’s also amusing to read John Holdren’s opinion from February, 2009, that because of climate change, we were going to lose the ice cover on the Arctic Ocean – all year:

…if you lose the summer sea ice, there are phenomena that could lead you not so very long thereafter to lose the winter sea ice as well. And if you lose that sea ice year round, it’s going to mean drastic climatic change all over the hemisphere.

Such is the environmental expertise informing the Obama Administration – stupid and dishonest.

More questionable social engineering comes to Hawaii’s public schools

News Release from Rep Bob McDermott, February 27, 2014

Representative Bob McDermott is in the process of reviewing the latest arrival from the mainland to be thrust upon the Hawaii public school system. This new program is called Teaching Tolerance.

On the heels of the controversial Pono Choice sex education curriculum, comes another, grant-funded program. This time it is for training teachers to impart the concept of “tolerance.” While everyone agrees with the principle of tolerance, it seems that Hawaii has historically already done a better job with it than those now purporting to show us what values we should adopt. Also, like Pono Choices, there is a disproportionate focus on normalizing homosexuality.

McDermott said, “I support tolerance. But there is a difference between tolerance and forced acceptance of sensitive and controversial issues that violate one’s faith, creed or moral code.”

One workbook example actually singles out, in a negative way, an “exclusionary fundamentalist Christian home.”

“Where’s the tolerance for people who hold faith-based morality?” asks McDermott.

The Teaching Tolerance Program is a product of the Southern Poverty Law Center based in Alabama. It is a K-12 teacher training for a “literacy-based anti-bias curriculum.” One of the problems is how it is being implemented. Teachers, who are required to develop this type of curriculum, can now get a turn-key solution for free. In fact, the promoters, with the full blessing of the Hawaii Department of Education, will pay teachers $250 for attending the pilot training. This raises all sorts of ethical issues. Are Hawaii teachers being bribed to promote a specific point of view in these materials to their students?

A preliminary review of the materials by McDermott’s staff shows that while tolerance of race, gender and physical disabilities are discussed, almost 25% of the example scenarios deal with gay acceptance. As he did during the Pono Choices debate, McDermott asks why the gay population (which is no more than 4% of the general population) is consistently disproportionately represented in these new teaching materials.

Rep. McDermott added: “There is something fundamentally wrong with the Department of Education imparting a version of ‘tolerance’ on our children, without first consulting the local and diverse families that already make Hawaii the most accepting and loving place in the world.”

REFERENCES:

TT: LGBT-inclusive Best Practices Now Available

TT: Toolkit for In Bounds

TT: Michael Sam, Masculinity and Teaching Tolerance

TT: LGBT

Sex-change madness: DC says taxpayers must make dude look like a lady

Slide113-300x180

The killer formerly known as Robert in 1990 & 1993 (Boston Globe photo)

There is bizarre and then there is just plain absurd. In another case of government telling the private sector what to do – this time in the area of healthcare – the absurdity knows no bounds.

As reported by the Associated Press, “Insurance companies in the District of Columbia have been ordered to stop denying coverage to transgender residents seeking gender-reassignment surgery. Mayor Vincent Gray says the new rules will end health-care discrimination against the transgender population. The district joins five states that guarantee such coverage.”

A bulletin issued Thursday by the city’s Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking says that gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition. It says the various forms of treatment for that condition, including sex-change procedures, are covered benefits.

So my immediate question is, will Medicaid be used to cover these treatments as well? Are American taxpayers now footing the bill for someone to have a sex-change operation? How does that get equal billing with cancer and diabetes?

This is yet another example of a different type of medical condition: liberal progressive mental disorder. Consider the Massachusetts case where a federal appeals court in Boston upheld a judge’s ruling that a transsexual inmate convicted of murder is entitled to a taxpayer-funded sex change operation as treatment for her (he is a dude) severe gender identity disorder.

According to Boston.com, in a ruling that was a first of its kind, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said courts must not shy away from enforcing the rights of all people, including prisoners. “And receiving medically necessary treatment is one of those rights, even if that treatment strikes some as odd or unorthodox,” the court said.

So now a taxpayer-funded sex change operation is a right?

The ruling came in the case of convicted wife killer Michelle L. Kosilek. Formerly named Robert Kosilek, she (he is a dude) struggled for years with feelings that she was a woman inside a man’s body. Kosilek’s wife, Cheryl, thought she could cure Kosilek, the court said. But Kosilek strangled her in Mansfield in 1990 and dumped her body in a car at a mall in North Attleborough. Mayor Gray says people with gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder, “should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment.”

So this is how it works folks, progressive socialists — and the gay special interest lobby — find complicit medical professionals to support their assertions. Since gender dysphoria has been declared a valid medical condition, it has to be treated.

The hormone treatments and elaborate surgical procedures are just another new healthcare insurance cost to be shared by others. This is right up there with the insanity in Texas when some rich kid who killed four people in a drunk driving accident was declared to be suffering from a medical condition called “affluenza.” Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot!

I hear beard implants are now popular — could that be due to “duckdynastitis?”

If someone wants to alter the parts that God game him/her It is an elective surgical procedure which the individual should pay for themselves. Should the Medicaid and private insurance companies also pay for the change in wardrobe as someone awaits surgery?

Doggone, these liberal progressives just go along and make stuff up to achieve their demented agenda. In the progressive world, no one is responsible for anything. And everyone’s emotions and sentiments can be classified as some condition, which the government (read liberal progressives) must take care of — actually the hardworking American taxpayer must pay for.

If you’re a fella and not happy with being a fella, and want to be a girl, that’s your individual choice. You want to alter your body? Go right ahead and write a check.

And don’t give me all that special interest medical condition rhetoric. My taxpayer dollars should not be used this way. Nor should I have to assume the cost of this in my own private healthcare insurance plan.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. 

Frontiers of Evil: Amendment 1 & Florida’s “Emerald Necklace” of Greenways

1000 Friends of Florida has played a key role in supporting state funding for the acquisition of environmental land and establishing Florida State’s Nationally recognized “emerald necklace” of Greenways.

1000 Friends of Florida’s vision for Florida’s future: “Imagine livable neighborhoods and communities where kids can rid their bikes to school or the park and parents can walk to the store or take a bus to work if they wish. This is the future towards which 1000 Friends are working.” Translation: This plan eliminates the automobile and controls your movement by taking away your liberty and choice of travel. People will be living in confined areas in order to bike and walk for everyday needs. Now think about tropical storms and 100 degree weather without air conditioning which has been deemed unsustainable. Ask all of your elected officials for their car keys.

According to a recent Sun Sentinel article on Greenways: “put away your car keys and take out your running shoes or your horse (if you have one, and while you can still own one). Florida State planning and proposals for Greenways and Trails, which are paved bike paths and walkways eliminating the AUTOMOBILE, while taking away your liberty and your choice of travel.”

Florida was the first state in America to establish a comprehensive statewide plan for Ecological Greenways which serves as a critical component of the Florida Greenways Trails System (FGTS) plan. Florida has been a leader in Greenways and Trails. The State was recognized in 2008 as the first-ever Best Trails State in America for its work in facilitating outstanding statewide systems. Florida Ecological Greenways Network comprises 25,620,000 acres of land out of 34,721,280 total acres under conservation.

Greenways and Trails are being sold as a beautiful recreation for hiking, bicycling and walking, family orientated time together.

Why does enjoying the outdoors require millions of acres of land, with millions of tax dollars? Will this land eventually be turned into conservation land
where humans are not allowed?

GREENWAY MAP

Greenways

A visionary graphic indicating possible ecological greenway connections from one end of the state to the other. What are Greenways, and what is their purpose?

Greenways are a misleading concept given to people that love the outdoors and animals, which I am one. It is so fulfilling to be out in nature, in a gorgeous setting of blue skies, green trees and plants, and citing God’s creatures. Walking, biking, and other recreational activities fill your heart and clear your mind of all everyday distractions. BUT THIS IS NOT THE INTENT!

First Greenways are the corridors which connect conservation land, preserves reserves, parks and wildlife corridors. Greenways are developed by confiscating land through land acquisitions purchased with your tax dollars. All of this will develop an enormous ownership and control of water and land that will be off limits to all humans. Greenways are another scheme of land grabbing which will eventually combine all conservation lands with environmentalist programs designed to get the people off open land. This goes back to the United Nations Sustainable Development (Agenda 21)

BIODIVERSITY MAP

BioDiversity

Greenways and Smart Growth:

Their important need for Greenways and Trails is that they can be used as part of a Growth Management strategy. (a/k/a Agenda 21) Not only do Greenways provide alternative means of transportation, but Greenways help shape the Urban form (UN Human Settlements) by interconnecting natural areas functioning as greenbelts, agricultural reserves and/or to separate land use buffers. In addition, Greenways are used as development buffers, water quality (storm water) purifiers, air quality purifiers, scenic roadway buffers, and/or conservation easements. When abused as UN Agenda 21 demands, individuals are forced off their land.

Thanks to past and present Governors, their Cabinets, and the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC), our Tallahassee Legislators, working with special interest groups, Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP’s), Florida Association of Counties, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Florida Dept. of Transportation, Florida Forever, 1000 Friends of Florida, The Nature Conservancy (UN related), Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Water Management Districts, Florida Wildlife, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Parks and Recreation, and the list goes on, over 50% plus, of Florida land is involved in some environmental program. Many of these programs were not about conservation. These programs are about taking of private land putting in public hands off the tax roles at the behest of some conservation program. This is all about money, power and control. Are Florida Legislators incompetent, corrupt and unethical? Or just ignorant?

Governor Rick Scott is CEO of Acquisitions and Restorations Council (ARC), along with members of his Cabinet: Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, and Adam Putnam.

wildlifecorridor (1)They approve land acquisitions like Greenways corridors and the Florida Wildlife Corridor comprising 720,000 acres of land that will expand in the future into thousands of more acres. Florida Wildlife Corridor will run up the eastern coast of the United States to Maine when finished. This land will be off limits to humans (just like in the Hunger Games). The Wildlife Corridor was the critical link in Florida because this will connect to all Greenways, Blueways, Conservation Land, National and State Parks, Preserves and Reserved Land. This will be a massive land take over by Un-Elected Bureaucrats. Instead of doing their jobs and protecting Floridians private property they are pursuing bath salts, charities and a liberty minded sheriffs. Who protects you?

Governor Rick Scott is also CEO of Enterprise Florida (This is a Public-Private-Partnership, PPP). The website states they endorse and support Sustainable Development (which comes from the United Nations Agenda 21) while promoting statewide regionalism which eliminates counties and local government.

Regionalism is Communism.

To obtain a clear picture of the total loss of land, we have to take into considerations all land taken off the books including Federal and State. Florida National Parks and Preserves consist of roughly of 2,521,163.19 acres of land. Reserved lands which relate to military and Indian are not clear, but the map below will give you an idea.

Considering 161 Florida State Parks spanning over 700,000 acres of land and over 100 miles of sandy beaches the amount of Florida land in the public domain is staggering. How much is enough?

Water managementwest (1)

Eglin-Blackwater River and Blackwater River State Park (West Portion). For a larger view click on the map.

Eglin Air Force Base covers 464,000 acres of land. An Eglin permit is required to access the 250,000 acres of the Eglin reservation, conditionally open to public recreation. Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet approved a land acquisition in 2013, adding an additional 21,000 acre purchase to Buffer Eglin AFB. This was done without the approval of the people in the area who will now see a decrease in property value.

This is considered a critical linkage, connecting Eglin AFB to the Blackwater River State Forest. The linkage is approximately 53,000 acres with 24 percent in existing conservation lands and 23 percent in proposed conservation lands (future land acquisitions) and with a total of approximately 40,000 acres of private land.

Water management (1)

Eglin-Blackwater River and Blackwater River State Park (East Portion). For a larger view click on the map.

This gives you a clearer understanding of Greenways and how they are being used to connect conservations lands, and land corridors. This is land that you will not be allowed on. This pattern follows the United Nations Biodiversity Map. This is land grabbing putting the cost burden on the people in Florida, for their communist agenda which requires no private property.

Regional Planning Councils, NGO’s and Sustainable Developers, show these maps individually to your local boards so no one connects the dots to show the true picture of loss of private property. These comprehensives or vision planners incorporate these Greenways and Trails into their plans locking up large parcels of land while they never expose the true goal to connect all Greenways eliminating private property. They work with massive land acquisition and permanent easement schemes. For a true picture connect these maps.

Conservationists and other approaches to safeguard the Ecological Processes, a Greenway, like their natural counterparts, environmental corridors can operate in six basic ways (This comes from the American Greenways and Trails):

As habitat for plant and animal communities As a conduit for plants, animals, water, sediments, and chemicals; As a barrier preventing movement; ( I take it that means human movement ) As a filter allowing some things to pass while inhibiting others; (I take it this means humans passing through also) As a source for animals or seeds which move to other parts; ( I take it humans can’t move to other parts ) As a sink for trapping sediments, toxins, or nutrients.

They have stated their intentions very clearly here, and it doesn’t include humans.

Regional Councils and Sustainable Development Planners incorporate Greenways and Trails strategies in their zoning and land planning because they are for open spaces, land acquisition, permanent easements, and herding people into small areas, small units of high density. They are following United Nations Agenda 21. Get control of the land, get the people off of it, and get them into cities (high density, sustainable developments often referred to as pack’em, stack’em winding up like Detroit, their first model.)

Land acquisitions are the key to accomplishing the Greenways and Land Corridors. That is why:

1000 Friends of Florida, Florida Forever are largest land acquisition organization in the country, The Nature Conservancy (the richest), with budgets filled by Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet with their Acquisitions and Restoration Council (ARC), The rest that are mentioned above are also important to achieve this huge land grabbing that is going on in Florida, exclusive of the Greenways. None of this accounts for the millions of acres of land under conservation and land owned by Environmental Groups, all five of the Water Managements Districts, Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), Florida Wildlife, and more.

Conservation is a good thing, it makes some things sustainable. But conservation crosses the line, when land is accumulated with our tax dollars just for the purposes of accumulation, making species and plants more important than human life and the American Dream as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. No man or organization (including the U.N.) has the right to dictate where and how Americans live. Only God gives us our rights, man takes them away.

Today unfortunately our Public Schools k-12, Universities, and Colleges across the nation are allowing our children to be brain washed on how to live under the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 21. Books like: “Rescue Mission Planet Earth” a Child’s Edition of UN Agenda 21 has been in schools since 1994. Today these children are in government and bureaucratic positions and use your tax dollars to create these land grabbing schemes.

In the 2013, Tallahassee session your representatives would NOT pass a Bill Protecting Private Property. However these people have no problem taking your tax dollars to steal your property rights and freedom. This makes the big picture even more distressing. They do not have your best interest at heart, they do not use true science. They are greedy and short sighted and care more about their wallet and careers and THEY WANT YOUR VOTE.

“As a young girl, Pa (my grandfather) took me to all the Parades celebrating our Country’s Holidays. Pa would put his hand over his heart whenever “Old Glory” went by, and standing next to him I would feel this enormous warmth of pride. Now when I see our Flag with the same pride I had then, I have tears in my eyes. This isn’t the American I grew up in and what America stands for. I find myself fighting for America on American Soil against Americans that are giving America to a communist United Nations, using their Environmental Programs and fraudulent technology.” Neil Rice Our children are a gift from “God,” Not Man. We owe the children of this Great Nation to be taught the truth, and how to conserve in the correct manner and with common sense.

Teach them to take care of things so they will last.

Florida citizens have a huge task to overcome to stop all of this. More and more people are paying attention. I think the state of the economy is opening people’s eyes, as they are becoming more affected by the entire environment around them.

EDITORS NOTE: This column is co-authored by Neil Rice, Roy Callahan, Karen Schoen and AgEnders.

The featured image is courtesy of cs:ŠJů. The use of this image does not imply in any way the endorsement of the author or this column. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Congress: Going Around and Around Again

Long before the digital age, Americans of all ages loved to listen to music on 78/45 and 33 rpm records. That is, until the record became scratched and the diamond needle stuck in the groove and all one heard were pops, cracks and the same sound over and over.

These long forgotten records came to mind earlier this week when the Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Dave Camp, released his 979-page tax reform plan. Reactions have been swift and ranged from warnings about mid-term election fallout to indignant outrage by a few K-Street lobbyists whose carve-outs didn’t make the cut.

Although well intentioned, this plan is nothing more than a simpler version of a corrupted income tax code that panders to special interests and enables the IRS to continue as a partisan weapon.

Or as Congressman Jim Bridenstine declared, “This is a noble objective, but the plan released Wednesday inappropriately preserves both the IRS and all the nefarious opportunities for politicians to again use the tax code to hand out cash, control markets, and manipulate human behavior”.

For nearly a year, Congressional investigators have been reporting findings and oversight committees holding investigations on the IRS targeting scandal. Congressman Camp was at the center of these oversight and investigatory activities including Lois Lerner repeatedly invoking the 5thAmendment prior to negotiating immunity in exchange for testimony.

Given this, how can any Member of Congress, advocate for tax legislation that continues an agency as abusive as the IRS? Rest assured, to support the continuation of the income tax is to support this continued abuse!

There is a solution and it awaits a promised vote by the Committee on Ways and Means. HR 25, “The FairTax Act of 2013” is a simple, fair and transparent tax replacement plan that disbands and defunds the IRS in its entirety. It is the only tax plan before Congress that accomplishes this and is ready to be immediately implemented.

The FairTax fully funds the federal government, including Social Security and Medicare, and will stimulate the economy while generating jobs – jobs the American people desperately want and need.

Our income tax code is beyond repair and should be thrown into the dust heap of failed legislative experiments. The American people have labored under a punitive income tax code for 100 years. They are tired, demoralized and desperately want elected representatives who have the courage to end partisan game playing while doing what’s right for taxpayers and the nation. They want the FairTax.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image This image was originally posted to piqs.de was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 21:36, 19 July 2007 (UTC) by Bryan. The use of this image does not in any way imply the endorsement of this author or the Fair Tax.

RELATED COLUMN: Congress Recalling Former IRS Official Lois Lerner, Who Took the Fifth: ‘If We Have to Hold Her in Contempt, So Be It’

Iran: On Carrots, Sticks and Knives By Oren Kessler

Three months ago, I took a leap into the unknown. After eight years as a journalist and analyst in Tel Aviv, I moved to London to establish a Centre for the New Middle East at the Henry Jackson Society. At the time I wouldn’t have been able to tell Wembley from Wimbledon, Norwood from Norbury or Gospel Oak from Honor or Burnt or Royal. Then two weeks ago, I found myself in Westminster (that’s about halfway between Gospel Oak and Royal Oak, if you’re counting), trying to coax a dozen sceptical members of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to get serious about Iran.

I knew it would be a tough crowd. In the previous session, Jack Straw, the ex-foreign secretary and head of the Iran-Britain Parliamentary Friendship Group, dismissed the notion that the Islamic Republic is a threat to world peace. He lamented that the US foreign policy establishment – egged on by AIPAC and Bush-era neocons – had a “pervasive vulgarity” that required a “demon.” That demon was once the Russians, he said, and now it’s the poor Persians. “It is not about foreign policy analysis,” he said, “they have a psycho-political need.”

Having just visited Tehran, Straw assured the esteemed panel that the Iranian capital feels much like Madrid – you know, aside from the religious police and bodies hanging from cranes – and that if the mullahs twist the wording of nuclear agreements it’s because “they have a long tradition of poetry … ambiguity is part of their popular culture.”

A week before, Sir Robert Cooper, an LSE lecturer and former top UK and EU diplomat, assured the esteemed panel that Iranians are “people of enormous charm.” Committee chair Sir Richard Ottaway responded with the obvious conclusion: the problem may well lie in Washington rather than Tehran.

I don’t doubt Iranians are charming (I wouldn’t know – as a dual American-Israeli citizen, my travel options in Iran are rather circumscribed). I do, however, doubt that it’s insufficient appreciation of that charm that has poisoned the well of Iran’s relations with the world. Quite the contrary: the West is so charmed by Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani – his ready smile, passable English and Glasgow PhD – that it overlooks the inconvenient truth that Iran’s execution rate, already the world’s highest, has shot up since his election last year. Or that “election” means something a bit different in the Islamic Republic, where the mullahs barred 99% of candidates from running for president. Or that homosexuality is a capital crime in Iran, or that women’s testimony in court is, by law, worth half that of a man.

But I digress. What the committee really wanted to know was whether Israel would attack. “Isn’t it right,” MP John Baron asked me, “that ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan had said an Israeli strike would be ‘stupid’?”

“He did,” I replied, before completing the rest of Dagan’s remark: the Jewish state should not attack, he had said, until and unless the proverbial knife is up against its neck. “If, metaphorically speaking, the knife were against Israel’s neck,” I said, “I think Israel would strike, and I think it would have a legitimate reason to.”

Is the knife now up to Israel’s neck? Perhaps; perhaps not. But when going up against Iran, it’s vital to remember that this very dangerous game is played not only with carrots and sticks, but with knives as well.

EDITORS NOTE: Oren Kessler is a research fellow with the Henry Jackson Society.

Ukraine: Playing for the Long Term

It is an unusual event when a German Chancellor speaks to a joint session of both Houses of Parliament.  This week Angela Merkel used the opportunity of her speech in Westminster to not only talk about the future of Europe but also – and very movingly – of the continent’s past.  She bowed her head to the sacrifices of British servicemen in both wars of the twentieth century.  And she spoke movingly of what might have been had the British nation not stood up to her own country in the darkest moments of the twentieth century.

Of course we are not all fated to replay the 1930s and most of Chancellor Merkel’s speech was rightly given over to the future.  But there could hardly have been a better time for a demonstration of shared values to take place.

Because as Britain’s Parliamentarians sat listening to the German Chancellor, the very future of a state on the outskirts of Europe hung in the balance.  After weeks of wrangling, Viktor Yanukovych – the elected leader of Ukraine – has fled. Part of his security apparatus literally got down upon their knees to beg forgiveness from the population it had been firing on earlier in the week, and the whole future of the nation remains in the balance.  What can we take from all this?  Many things.  One is that there is in Ukraine, as there is in so many countries, not just one struggle but a set of struggles.  It is not merely a divide between West and East, free and unfree societies.  But it is partly that.  The deposed Yanukovych now cropping up in Moscow is a reminder to us of that.

As every European state has learned at some time or another, the process of movement towards freedom is never smooth.  And the extent to which outside actors can engage in shaping futures is unarguable.  But in a struggle for values – a struggle for the hearts and minds of populations – one thing matters more than any other.

That is whether – when people say that they want to be part of what you are part of – you tell them to go away, or whether you embrace them and encourage them.  Russia’s President Putin believes that the Ukraine lies in his sphere.  Many people in Ukraine fervently disagree.  To that extent there is undoubtedly a struggle over, and flexing of, wills.  Of course autocrats can often seem reassuring in the short term, which is exactly when democracies can seem most distracted, flaky and worrisome.

But it is to the long term that we must all look.

And that is why it was doubly important to see Chancellor Merkel speaking in Westminster this week.  For it was testament not only to the long-term strength of the world’s democracies, but a reminder that even the worst totalitarianisms can falter before the best freedoms.

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Obama and Hagel have surrendered our military strength

This week our president and secretary of defense — correct that to manager of appeasement — surrendered the military strength of the United States. This week Obama and Hagel told the enemies of liberty and freedom that it is open season. These two mental leprechauns have obviously never read the book by Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince” nor Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”. I’m sure they’ve never read Clausewitz or Jomini. So these astute fellas unilaterally decide that even in the face of a more dangerous world, we shall shrink our military capacity.

Image: Dana Summers

All those progressive socialist experts say we don’t need a big military. We can use our technology. To that I will respond that the most highly technical weapon on the battlefield is the individual well-trained warrior. We have been down this road before in America, as history does indeed repeat itself for those who fail to learn from it.

After World War I we decimated our military strength — true to form others increased theirs — namely Germany and Japan. World War II came about because belligerent Nations took the initiative. Our first major combat forays in World War II were not stellar: Coral Sea, Corregidor, and Kasserine Pass.

After World War II we decimated our forces to the delight of the Soviets and their proxy, North Korea. Our first foray into the ground combat environment of the Korean peninsula was the utter destruction of US Army Task Force Smith. Even General MacArthur’s Inchon operation had to be delayed because only five years after World War II our Pacific theater operations did no have enough Marines and amphibious assault landing craft — simply unbelievable.

We witnessed a reduction in forces (RIF) after Operation Desert Shield/Storm and saw troop deployments and commitments increase.

I do not believe in, nor support, nation-building campaigns. I prefer a US Military that is based on power projection and strike operations, not a forward deployed force. We must streamline our acquisition process as it takes far too long to introduce new weapons systems. We should also examine SLEP (service life extension programs) before embarking upon massive billion dollar new systems. The A-10 platform that Hagel wants to cut is just as viable today as ever as a close air support system against massed Islamic terrorist formations.

Obama stated we are pivoting away from the Middle East — yay for Iran, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood — and focusing on the Pacific Rim. However, we have shrunk from a 570 warship Navy to one of 283 heading to 230. I don’t believe the oceans have shrunk. Yet we see China expanding its naval capability — remember the last time an Asian nation built up its maritime force? Didn’t end well for the US.

Obama and Hagel provide no strategic vision for the 21st century battlefield, and running away is not an effective maneuver. What type of force mix shall we have allocated to our geographic AORs (CENTCOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, NORTHCOM)? Where gaps exist we shall be exploited.

Is Obama doing this intentionally? There can be no other answer than yes. Why? Because just like Bill Clinton, spending on domestic welfare nanny-state programs is more important to progressive socialists — after all, they want power, they need votes.

Friday, I spoke at Faith Middle School at Ft. Benning Georgia to students in the 6th and 8th grades. Many of those kids had parents who were deployed or had been deployed. I looked into the eyes of those kids who are truly little heroes, giving up their moms and dads to serve and protect our Republic. I talked to them about looking my own two daughters in the eye and having to say those tough words, good bye.

I wonder if Obama and Hagel have the character to stand before those kids and tell them their Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman matter not? Could he look those kids in the eye and tell them “Peace through Strength” is a dumb concept and that the world is safer without your parents out there scaring people? Could he look those kids in the eyes and tell them their future will be more dangerous and less secure?

Sadly, the answer is no, he could. Because Obama lacks integrity, character, and moral courage and finds it easy to look in your eyes and lie — even to children of our warriors. The American flag is being lowered and replaced with a white flag. But I for one will never surrender, never give up.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com and reposted with permission.

Watching Mt. Gox Collapse from the Inside

Editors’ note: A few months back, we interviewed a full-time BTC trader, who still wishes to remain anonymous. In the wake of Mt. Gox’s collapse, we reached out for comment. Here’s what he had to say:

I did lose some BTC on the collapse, enough to sting, but it’s something of a small price if it means Mt. Gox and Mark [Karpeles, CEO of Mt. Gox] are permanently out of the picture. It also seems the market has priced in the worst result, so it appears the community and markets are already moving on.

The situation is still developing and quickly, and it seems increasingly likely that Mark will suffer multiple lawsuits and potentially criminal charges. By some accounts Gox held over a billion in assets, and people with that sort of money don’t exactly roll over without a fight.

From the few discussions I’ve had, there have been/still are over-the-counter deals being struck between hedge funds and large players to buy out “Gox coins” at 10 percent or 15 percent, etc.—i.e., if I have 1,000 bitcoins on Gox, people are willing to purchase it for 100 bitcoins. A site was made a couple weeks ago that allowed people to trade on this, which was great because it helped alleviate the collapse and I believe softened the price crash.

People were wiring money to Gox to buy up until they stopped trading; I don’t imagine that being swept under the rug. There are ongoing rumors/speculation/etc. that people are interested in buying out the exchange, but it really depends on how much was lost: If Gox is out 750,000 bitcoin, no one is going to touch it, but if it’s much less, then there is still the possibility—either way the situation probably will not be resolved for some time.

Fraud occurs whether or not there is a law to say it’s illegal. I think what will be more important to see is how quickly market players adapt and change services to attract traders. When bad firms are allowed to fail, the pain can be immediate and severe, but it allows wounds to heal instead of having a prolonged uncertainty or a complex debt instrument weighing down the markets. Already, exchanges are looking into how to better broadcast their solvency; since the blockchain is a public ledger, it is easy enough to sign controlling addresses to show “proof” that an entity is in control of the bitcoins they’ve been entrusted with. The trickier issue currently is how to list liabilities (how many coins an exchange is supposed to have) without leaking too much personal information; for a more technical discussion you can start here.

The other thing to keep in mind is that a distributed network that is largely unregulated by governments does not necessarily imply a system that is chaotic and lawless. Enforceable contractual law is necessary for free markets to flourish, and I know we will see more sophisticated agreements form from out of this disaster, either insurance offers, multisignature bonds being held, or some other scheme. The power of a distributed network is in how decisions are made; there isn’t one central point of failure wherein a government regulatory body either makes good regulatory law or doesn’t. Instead many different actors create many different solutions which compete and serve different use-cases. When a thousand people all work independently on a solution, much better results are obtained. That’s the theory anyway; let’s see how it plays out. I’m betting bitcoin will continue to grow this year, see wider adoption, and likely reach new all-time highs.

Compare this recovery to the supposed 2008/2009 global downturn recovery. I suspect a dozen central bankers are a poor substitute for 10,000 innovators.

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Is Bitcoin a Viable Currency? It’s not a scam, but market actors will determine its staying power DECEMBER 11, 2013 by Steve Patterson

Is fear of Islam unfounded?

Reza Varjavand is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. In this short piece at Iranian.com, he asks a common-sense question that has been obscured by the fog of jihad-enabling propaganda pumped out endlessly by the likes of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Reza Aslan’s Aslan Media. His title, “Is Fear of Islam Unfounded?,” is of course prompted by the use of the term “Islamophobia,” which literally means fear of Islam; however, I think the best response to the atrocities he mentions is not fear, but resoluteness in the defense of freedom and human rights.

“Is Fear of Islam unfounded?,” by Reza Varjavand for Iranian.com, February 26:

Once again, a violent attack by Muslim extremists astounded the world, they murdered a number of innocent students in Nigeria just because they were attending school and learning what their attackers called Western education! Is this the religion whose prophet allegedly said “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”? I think the world have seen enough images of atrocities committed under the name of Islam: Blown-up buildings, burning cars, beheading, flogging, arresting innocent people for no reason, butchering of a British soldier in a street of London, Boston bombing, Train bombing in Madrid, fatal shooting of 13 people by army major Nidal Hassan, public executions in street, death threat against, or assassination of, writers or those who express their opinions just to name a few.

Sometimes I ask myself is this what Islam is all about?

In light of all of these, we, Muslims, keep telling others how peaceful our religion is which reminds me of that famed Wendy’s “where is the beef” commercial. Aren’t Muslim influential leaders guilty of implicit complacency by remaining silent and not publically condemning such atrocious acts or taking a firm position against them?

We may not be able to change this madness; at least we can say something about it.

Indeed. Stopping the victimhood manipulation and working for serious, genuine reform would be a good place to start.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of the flag of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

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Keystone XL is Proof Obama Opposes U.S. Economic Growth

It’s taken nearly five years, but Americans are finally aware that President Obama is opposed to anything that contributes to the economic growth of the nation. Along with a Democratic controlled Senate and its opposition to anything generated by the Republican House, Obama has saddled the nation with the highest debt in its history and squandered billions on failed alternative energy firms.

The most dramatic example is Obama’s five-year delay of the implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline that would safely transport oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

There are approximately 55,000 miles of pipelines in the U.S. with another 30,000 to 40,000 smaller gathering pipelines that feed it to the major ones.

In a February 17 U.S. Chamber of Commerce advertisement in The Weekly Standard, its president and CEO, Thomas J. Donahue, wrote that “In the same time that the Keystone XL pipeline application has been under review by the Obama administration, the Hoover Dam, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Empire State Building were built—a clear indicator of how cumbersome and political today’s permitting process has become.”

Donahue pointed out that “The Keystone XL pipeline would not only transport fuel safely, but it would boost economic activity along the way. Building the pipeline would create more than 42,000 new jobs while adding $3.4 billion to the economy. The pipeline would generate more than $5.2 billion in property taxes for communities on the route, pumping cash into state and city coffers for schools, law enforcement, and local projects.”

“Radical eco-zealots have chosen Keystone XL as the place to make their stand,” says Craig Rucker, the Executive Director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) a free market think tank. “They claim this project is unsafe for the environment and the people it would pass near, and that it would greatly contribute to alleged ‘global warming.’”

The State Department is accepting public comment on the pipeline and CFACT has a petition for which it is seeking signatures to move forward on its acceptance. Take a moment to sign it.

Even Obama’s Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, has gone on record saying that the nation’s railroad infrastructure was not ready to handle the huge increase in all oil production coming out of places like North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation, urging that pipelines are the best option. “Frankly, I think pipeline transport overall probably has overall a better record in terms of cost, in terms of emissions, and in terms of safety.”

Keystone XL has become the environmental movement’s front line in its attack on the nation’s economic growth and political pundits commonly say that Obama’s refusal to permit its construction is based on his intention to keep their vote, but I am inclined to believe that it is part of his effort to convert the economy and political structure of the nation from a vigorous capitalist entity to one in which millions of Americans, unable to find employment and experiencing a reduction in their personal wealth are forced onto government doles of one sort or another.

Paul Driessen, a CFACT senior policy advisor, points out that “Most Americans are no longer fooled by empty hope and change hype. In December only 74,000 jobs were created (many of them low-paying part-time seasonal positions), while 374,000 more people gave up looking for work. Not surprisingly, recent polls have found that three-quarters of Americans say the country still appears to be in a recession, two-thirds don’t trust the President to make the right decisions for the country, and barely 30% say the nation is ‘heading in the right direction.’”

One is reminded of Obama’s claim that his $787 billion dollar “stimulus” program would help fund “shovel ready” jobs waiting to be filled. It utterly failed to do that, instead directing the money to alternative energy firms that went bankrupt while their owners pocketed much of that funding. Obama later admitted that there were far fewer shovel ready jobs than he believed existed. Government regulations have so slowed and delayed construction projects of every description that until they are removed, the economy will continue to stagnate.

The environmental claim that the pipeline will contribute to “greenhouse gas emissions”, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), is utterly false because CO2 plays virtually no role whatever in affecting the Earth’s weather or climate. The claim is based on computer models, 95% or more of which have proved to be wrong.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal on February 20, Richard McNider and John Christie disputed Secretary of State John Kerry’s claims about “climate change”, pointing out that “When the failure of become clear, the modeling industry always comes back with new models that soften their previous warming forecasts…The models mostly miss warming in the deep atmosphere—from the Earth’s surface to 75,000 feet—which is supposed to be one of the real signals of warming caused by carbon dioxide. Here, the consensus ignores the reality of temperature observations of the deep atmosphere collected by satellites and balloons, which have consistently shown less than half of the warming shown in the average model forecasts.” McNider and Christie are professors of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and fellows of the American Meteorological Society.

Even Kerry’s Department of State’s own final environmental impact statement said that the Keystone XL pipeline would contribute little to global greenhouse gas emissions. Obama’s alleged climate policies ignore the science that disputes any connection between CO2 and the climate, but it is his primary instrument to delay and eliminate any economic growth.

Regrettably, on Feb 19, a Nebraska judge ruled that the law allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to be built across the State is unconstitutional, thus delaying the project still further.

The greenhouse emissions claims are a huge lie created to advance “global warming”, now called “climate change”, but the bottom line is that Obama is using them as a weapon against the nation’s capacity to grow the economy

We have a President who is doing everything he can to reduce jobs, reduce construction, eliminate coal-fired plants to produce electricity, and to wage an economic war on America.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

“Oops-care” by George C. Leef

Obamacare victimizes Americans, but politics means never having to say you’re sorry.

Remember the glowing, utopian talk about the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” back in 2009–10? We heard constantly that it was the solution to a national crisis, carefully contrived to guarantee high-quality insurance for virtually everyone without making anyone worse off.

And so the great mountain of a bill was quickly passed while the Democrats held unchallengeable control. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi breezily said, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” Now we know that she actually meant, “We have to pass this before people find out what it will do to them.”

Day by day, we discover what is in Obamacare—pain and angst for many ordinary Americans as the law’s numerous edicts kick in. The February 24 Wall Street Journal featured an article right on point, “Obamacare and My Mother’s Cancer Medicine” by Stephen Blackwood. (Disclosure: I know Mr. Blackwood, but this piece would be exactly the same if we had never met.)

The article shows how damaging the law has been to his mother, who is stricken with carcinoid cancer. She had been covered by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy for 20 years and it served her needs well. “It was expensive,” Blackwood writes, “but given that it covered her very expensive treatments, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medicines that were keeping her alive.”

But then Obamacare came crashing down, requiring BC/BS to cancel Mrs. Blackwood’s plan last fall. Since that time, she has been through a nightmare trying to find new coverage. The plan she eventually had to go with seemed satisfactory, but just before she had surgery on February 12, she was informed that the insurer would not, in fact, cover her medications. Mrs. Blackwood is living on the precipice, and turmoil over insurance is the last thing she needs.

Why would the Congress and President Obama put a sick person through such difficulty? Why did they inflict what Blackwood aptly calls “a Procrustean disaster” on the many Americans who have had stable and satisfactory medical care arrangements shredded by government meddling?

Of course, none of the backers of the hilariously misnamed PPACA meant to harm people like Mrs. Blackwood. They meant well—or so they all say. They wanted to solve the problem of people who had to get by without health insurance. The bill simply had to be passed immediately.

Consequently, there couldn’t be any of the customary hearings on legislation that would have allowed experts to carefully examine the bill’s workings and think through the likely results—not just the nice-sounding intended ones. Slow, deliberate debate over the bill’s provisions would no doubt have revealed that it would have lots of harmful side effects, like the cancellation of plans that cancer patients were relying on.

Rushing Obamacare into law was the governmental equivalent of a doctor giving a patient a completely untested drug.

Any Democrat in Congress could have said, “I don’t care if my party’s leadership insists on this, I won’t vote for it until the bill has been carefully examined, and since it’s over 2,500 pages, that can’t be done quickly.” Too bad that there were no “profiles in courage” who stood up for caution and common sense.

Once the severe side effects began to manifest themselves, President Obama gave an interview in which he offered a wishy-washy pseudo-apology to the people victimized by his Great Leap Forward. “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurance they got from me,” he said. I’m sure that the Blackwood family and many others found those words to be soothing.

Let’s think about this situation from a different angle. Suppose that you had a problem at your house—a shaky shelf in your garage. Your neighbor noticed it one day while the two of you were talking in the driveway. The next day, unbidden, he came over, entered your garage, and tried to fix the shelf. But in doing so, he caused it to collapse on your car. Tools and cans of paint fell on it, doing considerable damage.

What would you expect him to do?

You would expect him to apologize sincerely for the intrusion, make amends for the damage he caused, then meekly promise not to bother you again. Most Americans, acting as regular people, would behave just that way.

Obamacare is like the busybody neighbor’s unwanted “help.” Unbidden, a group of arrogant politicians, supremely confident that they knew how to improve society through a maze of taxes and mandates and prohibitions, has harmed many of the people they supposedly represent. But don’t expect any apologies, much less a making of amends, and much, much less a promise to leave you alone in the future.

Politicians almost never act like, as Obama might say, “regular folks.” They don’t apologize and make amends. The President isn’t really sorry about messing up the lives of people like Mrs. Blackwood; all he is sorry about is that some Americans now realize they’re the eggs to be broken so he can make his omelet.

Other politicians responsible for giving us Obamacare are just trying to change the subject. Here in North Carolina where I live, Senator Hagan avoided Obama when he visited the state recently and is running smiley face ads telling voters that she’s in favor of “investing in education.”

I cannot remember any instance when a politician owned up to a mistake and said to his constituents, “I supported that bill (or that war, or that appointment), but now I can see what a blunder it was. I’m sorry and will try to undo the damage I have caused.”

Politicians almost never admit their mistakes and correct them, which is an excellent reason why we should keep politics out of as much of life as possible.

ABOUT GEORGE C. LEEF

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is from Shutterstock on the Foundation for Economic Education website and is reposted with permission.

Ukraine Crisis: West is Fiddling as Kiev Burns by Andrew Foxall

First published in The International Business Times

Those who argue that Western silence on the deteriorating situation in Ukraine has only strengthened Russia’s hand overlook the fact that this narrative has been in place for a number of years. Despite the West’s claims to uphold democratic and liberal values, from Belarus to Syria, it has been unwilling to intervene to support these. Nowhere is this notion more dominant right now than in Kiev, where protestors are being killed by a Kremlin-backed regime while Western states urge authorities to “show restraint”.

Although it was not the first example, the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 set the standard. When Georgia and Russia went to war, the EU and the US did not come to Georgia’s aid. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Russia invaded and then occupied a neighbouring country. The response of the West was anaemic. While the EU took a lead role in formulating the six-point peace plan, it was neither able nor willing to make Russia enforce it. The actions of the US, Georgia’s supposed security guarantor, suggested Georgia was irrelevant.

Thus, it became clear that the West would not intervene against Russia’s attempts to dominate the post-Soviet states, seen by the Kremlin as its region of ‘privileged interest’.

Just as the geopolitical battle over Georgia was about its future – whether it should look east to Russia or west to Europe – so too is the current situation in Ukraine. The situation has its origins in the unsatisfactory ending of the 2004 Orange Revolution. After rigged elections, in November 2004, bought pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych to power, citizens took to the streets in protest. The protests led to new elections, in December 2004, that saw pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko become president. The revolution, however, was over almost as soon as it began. After years of disappointment and infighting, Yanukovych was elected as president in 2010.

The narrative Yanukovych propagated in 2004 and 2010 was simple: Europe is not to be trusted, and only with Russia is our future secure. It was – and continues to be – a powerful one. When it came to November 2013 and the question of whether or not Ukraine should sign an Association Agreement with the EU, Russia offered the Ukraine a deal that included US$15 billion in loans and significantly cheaper natural gas imports. The EU offered Ukraine a treaty that would give it the same access to the European market as enjoyed by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. Yanukovych looked east, looked west, then looked east again.

For the past three months, Ukrainians have been protesting against this decision. Today, people are being killed on the streets because Yanukovych is unwilling to seek political dialogue. Images abound in the media, and are shocking. These images may boost public support for Western intervention in Ukraine, but if support is not forthcoming then it will be remembered for decades, in Ukraine, as evidence of Western complicity in Ukrainian suffering. The West watched on, it will be said, as Kiev burned.

If the West is to act, it would do well to do so soon. Earlier this week, the parliament in Crimea – a region in eastern Ukraine populated primarily by ethnic Russians – declared the situation a “civil war”. If protests and instabilities spread to Crimea, then Russia may be inclined to intervene in the region to protect its citizens, just as it did in Abkazhia and South Ossetia in August 2008. Should this happen, who knows where the violence would end?