Boston Mayor Proposes Draconian Interrogation Health Care Measure In The Name Of Gun Safety.

On January 10, City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced his legislative agenda for 2019.  In what represents the latest leftist assault on privacy rights and gun ownership, the Mayor proposed that medical professionals be required “. . . to ask patients about the presence of guns in their homes. . . ”  The government mandated interrogation is to be undertaken “. . . with the goal of identifying red flags that could indicate risks relative to suicide, domestic violence, or child access to guns.”  

In point of fact, the Mayor’s proposal is the latest end-around towards developing a comprehensive registry of gun ownership within Boston, a clear violation of Bostonians’ privacy rights and an intimidation tactic designed to shame gun owners into relinquishing their guns.  

Amazingly, the topic of physician inquiries into their patients’ gun ownership status is marred with controversy.  This is largely due to the incredulous position and legislative efforts undertaken by the American Academy of Pediatrics in support of banning handguns.  In 1992, the AAP, an organization created for the purpose of promoting pediatrician education and representing issues important to pediatricians, actually thought it was sound legislative policy to intrude onto the expressed constitutional rights of American citizens by supporting legislation that would “prohibit the possession, sale or manufacture of handguns in the United States.” Stupidly, the AAP then went on to post it on their website as one of its stated missions.

The issue came to a head when, in the State of Florida, legislation was introduced that would fine a physician $5 million for merely asking a patient if he or she had a gun in his or her home.  The proposed legislation arose from an incident where a dense physician in Ocala, Florida, refused to see a patient because she would not disclose her gun ownership status.  The logical and sane conclusion to the controversy would have been for the woman to simply see another doctor and share with her friends and community the lunacy of the physician through personal or media communications.  At most, she could have reported this physician’s unethical practice to the Board of Medicine and let the issue play itself out that way.  Instead, she chose to approach her state legislator who propagated the insanity by proposing a multi-million dollar punishment for physicians who merely ask a question.  The fact that the state legislature even considered the bill is a testament to the absurdity of the times in which we live.

Ultimately, the bill was watered down so that what was passed, the Firearms Owners’ Privacy Protections Act (FOPA), prohibited physicians from documenting a patient’s gun ownership status unless it was directly relevant to the care of the patient.  The bill also prohibited physicians from discriminating against an individual based on the person’s gun ownership status.  Violation of the law was punishable by “. . . a fine of up to $10,000.00, a letter of reprimand, probation, suspension, compulsory remedial education, or permanent license revocation.”

The ensuing multi-year, multi-million-dollar, social and legal controversy ended with an Eleventh Circuit Federal Court ruling tossing the law out as unconstitutional, but the ridiculous, unnecessary, and painful process did bring to light a number of issues regarding the nexus between health care, medical documentation, and personal liberties.  

First, indisputably, a physician ought to be able to ask a patient about guns.  The issue of accidental gun deaths is a serious problem in American society.  Anywhere between 77 and 113 pediatric, gun-related deaths take place in our country each year.  Efforts at curtailing these deaths are generally laudable, and the fact is that primary care physicians such as pediatricians engage in all sorts of health screenings designed to prevent disease or injury.  Gun safety should be no different.  

On the other hand, gun ownership is a cherished right that is to be zealously guarded. Any organization, including the AAP, seeking to decimate that right must be vehemently opposed.  The act of refusing a gun owner service merely because that owner is wishing to protect a right expressly enshrined in the Constitution is unconscionable and becomes even more egregious when the patient’s ownership status becomes part of his or her permanent record and accessible by the government.  Perhaps, the greater problem is our acquiescence to government funding of our health care and to giving it access to our personal information, but that is another issue altogether.  

The principal benefit to our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is to provide a check upon the power of government.  That effect is undoubtedly endangered when the government is allowed to know exactly who owns such weapons and unduly regulates who accesses them.

Florida and its physicians learned valuable lessons about gun rights and health care through its experience with the Doc v. Glocks drama; lessons that apparently were not heeded by Mayor Marty Walsh.  

Mayor Walsh’s proposal is vastly more draconian than either the Ocala physician’s actions or the state legislature’s response to it.  Walsh wants to mandate that physicians interrogate patients about gun ownership.  This would no longer be a situation where a pretentious physician on an individual basis decides to ask a question to the point of sacrificing his relationship with his patient.  What Walsh is proposing is that physicians work as agents of the state to collect information from patients regarding their most sacred rights and record it for the government’s benefit.  The very idea of this proposal strikes a dictatorial and oppressive tone. 

Adding to the tyrannical optics, it is the Police Commissioner who is out in public heralding the benign intent of the proposal. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross explained that the goal would be to identify those at risk for domestic violence, suicide or child access to guns in order to guide people to mental health counseling, resources or other help. In short, he said, “We’re just asking [medical professionals] to help identify ways to save lives.” 

Isn’t it interesting that practically every oppressive idea proposed by the left is buttressed by the goal of saving lives?  And by the way, despite the Police Commissioner’s comment, the government wouldn’t be asking for help, it would be mandating it.  In short, anyone harboring a concern regarding excessive governmental intrusion ought to instinctively recall Benjamin Franklin’s words: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

From a practical nature, it is clear that neither the Mayor nor the Police Commissioner have given their proposal sufficient thought.  Not only does their recommendation clearly intrude on people’s liberties, but what happens when a patient refuses to divulge such information? Are we going to refuse him or her treatment?  Will we fine him or her, or jail the person?  What happens if a physician refuses to participate?  And what happens if there is a gun-related accident, death, or suicide following a contact with a physician, does the doctor become liable? 

Mayor Marty Shaw’s proposal is a bad idea at so many levels.  It is draconian, offensive to the Constitution, disrespectful to the free and unencumbered practice of medicine, and an undue intrusion into patient’s privacy rights.  Bostonians must oppose it lest the mayor’s disease spread elsewhere.

EDITORS NOTE: This column from The Federalist Pages is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Jason Leung on Unsplash.

Is Your Community One of 13 Recognized for its Welcome to New Americans?

When I wrote my post welcoming readers to my new blog, I told you I was writing to attempt to balance the news because you will be bombarded by stories over the next two years about how immigrants (New Americans is the preferred word) financially and culturally benefit your community.

Sure they may bring some benefits but also some problems and it is the problems that Open Borders pushers like the New American Economy (NAE) and Welcoming AmericaNEVER mention.

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The chief propagandists behind the New American Economy.  Does anyone think they have the best interests of average Americans at heart? Or is it all about cheap labor?

Someone has to do it—tell the rest of the story—and I’m hoping Frauds and Crooks will be a one-stop shop for cataloging stories about frauds and crimes that cost you and me both financially and from a security standpoint so that you can best decide where you stand on the issue of our time—migration.

We are in a tough battle because the Open Borders Left has joined with global giants to push more and more immigration down our throats.

david lubell with logo
Welcoming America Founder Lubell has a new position. He is working in Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the UK to help make them be more welcoming.

I saw a story this morning from Bowling Green, KY, a huge refugee resettlement site that I wrote about often at Refugee Resettlement Watch.

It’s about how the Chamber of Commerce and local government are working with NAE and their Gateways for Growth initiative to improve employment prospects for the “New Americans” living there.

You can read the story yourself, here.

Bowling Green is one of thirteen localities which have been awarded grants for 2019 to boost the immigrant population—to get them working and voting.

From NAE’s website:

Thirteen Communities Across the United States Make a Commitment to Welcome New Americans

Launched in December 2015, the Gateways for Growth Challenge is a competitive opportunity for local communities to receive direct technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants.

Here are the locations awarded grants for 2019:

Bowling Green, Kentucky
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Charlotte, North Carolina
Flint, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Lexington, Kentucky
Lowell, Massachusetts
Memphis, Tennessee
Northern Kentucky
Roanoke, Virginia
San Antonio, Texas
Toledo-Lucas County, Ohio
Wayne County, Michigan

Learn more here.

You know the grants themselves are really not that great, but they buy media because every location on this list will likely generate warm and fuzzy local media coverage just like the story at the Bowling Green Daily News.

Has Bowling Green already forgotten that it is the location where two Iraqi refugee terrorists were arrested only a few years ago?  Has that news been swept under the rug? Sure looks like it.

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Are you seeing news in a local paper or on local TV about one of the other twelve locations, if so, send me a link!

Update:  Thanks to Robin here is the puff-piece from Lexington, KY local news

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals with images is republished with permission.

NYC: Giant sculpture proclaiming ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet’ goes up at Ground Zero

Said Jenkell: “Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location. But there is no way I can do such a thing as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G20 just like any other candy flag of this Candy Nations show.”

City officials should move it. Would a giant sculpture containing Shinto inscriptions be put up at Pearl Harbor? But nothing will be done about this. To move it would be “Islamophobic,” and the de Blasio administration would rather have its teeth pulled out with rusty pliers than do anything that might even give the appearance of “Islamophobia.”

“A Sculpture Celebrating Saudi Arabia Has Been Erected on Ground Zero,” by Davis Richardson, Observer, January 9, 2019 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

A sculpture celebrating Saudi Arabia’s place in the G20 Summit was erected on the World Trade Center grounds last week, a stone’s throw away from the 9/11 memorial.

Shaped to resemble a piece of candy, the nine-foot-tall statue bears the Kingdom’s emerald flag emblazoned with the Arabic inscription, “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the prophet.” It was created by French sculptor Laurence Jenkell in 2011 as part of the larger installation “Candy Nations” which depicts G20 countries as sugary delights….

“I first created flag candy sculptures to celebrate mankind on an international level and pay tribute to People of the entire world,” Jenkell told Observer in a statement. “Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location. But there is no way I can do such a thing as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G20 just like any other candy flag of this Candy Nations show.”

The installation was curated and installed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey….

Although the installation was originally created in 2011 to convey “an optimistic message of unity beneath external differences,” its placement at the World Trade Center raises questions given longstanding accusations directed toward Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In 2003, hundreds of families affected by the 9/11 terror attacks sued the Kingdom over its alleged involvement in harboring terrorism—given that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

Last March, a U.S. federal judge rejected Saudi Arabia’s motion to drop the charges.

RELATED ARTICLE: Antisemitic Congresswoman Given Seat on House Foreign Affairs Committee

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column with images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash.

The Constitutionality of A Presidential State of Emergency

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

My inbox is being inundated with the question de jour: “If President Trump declares a ‘State of Emergency’ to build the wall on the border of Mexico, is that Constitutional?”

I am certain that is not the right question, or perhaps not the right way to ask it, but to ask it and answer it correctly, let’s briefly remind ourselves of America’s Constitutional structure and function.

The Constitution of the United States defines the powers for the three branches of federal government. Each of these branches are delegated specific enumerated powers that are not only limited and defined by the Constitution but also separate and distinct in their delegations. The branches of government do not share powers unless that specific cooperation is ascribed by the Constitution. For example, the power to create treaties (today referred to with the obfuscatory label — “deals”) is not an autonomous power belonging to the president but one that requires specific concurrence by the Senate.

Recall that the 10th Amendment declares that any power not delegated through the Constitution remains in the hands of the States. This is the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt’s “stewardship” doctrine that says the feds can do whatever they want as long as the Constitution doesn’t say they can’t. Federal Supremacists love this perspective. That was NOT the discussion or conclusion of the ratification debates. There are no unnamed powers floating in the ether waiting to be snatched up by the central government. Roosevelt’s Secretary of War William Taft rightly conveyed the framers’ positions, “a specific grant must be either in the Federal Constitution or in an act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof. There is no undefined residuum of power which (the federal government) can exercise because it seems…to be in the public interest…”

The specific delegations of power, as well as NON-delegations, were created thoughtfully, deliberately, with knowledge of history and human nature. The limitations of those powers involved considerable debate and study into past history and ancient governments.

Patrick Henry said in his famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist #20: “Experience is the oracle of truth…”

However, it is not uncommon in the evolution of the American Republic to see the government AND the citizenry cast off the wisdom and experience enshrined in the founding documents to address some “urgent necessity.” Instead of taking the intentionally cumbersome path to do it right, Americans willingly run roughshod over Constitutional barriers because — “we have to get this done ,” or “there is no other way to do it!” These instances have slowly transmuted the Republic into the nearly limitless federal behemoth we know today.  We would be well-served to paste a banner over our televisions and computers reminding us of what William Pitt said in 1783:

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

So when people ask questions like “Can the president do…?” “Can the House, Senate, or Supreme Court do…?” the first sources that must be consulted are the Constitution and the people who drafted it.  If the Constitution provides no authority for the activity, then the power does not Constitutionally reside in the hands the federal government. So more to the root of the question being asked, “Does the Constitution enumerate a power to the President to declare a state of emergency?” The short answer is No.S

Every state of emergency refers to the National Emergencies Acts as the source of its authority. So the real question is “Does the Constitution authorize Congress to alter (expand or contract) executive power by legislative act?”  The constitutional answer to this question is obviously No.  Congress cannot add powers that the Constitution has not delegated to the president nor can they take away powers that have been delegated.  For Congress to have the authority to add power to the executive branch, they would have to possess the authority to actually amend the Constitution by congressional act, which they do not.  Additionally, for Congress to delegate a power to the executive branch that has been constitutionally delegated to Congress, is a per se violation of the Constitution by crushing the principle of Separation of Powers.  James Madison, quoting political philosopher Montesquieu, was very direct with his words regarding separation of powers:

“There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates…” Federalist #47

Spending, war, appropriations, national defense, and naturalization are all powers specifically delegated to Congress.  For Congress to abdicate its power to the executive branch is not only not authorized by the Constitution, it is necessarily forbidden by the principle of Separation of Powers to ensure the security of the Liberty of the people.

Shockingly, this debate over states of emergency has raged for decades and nobody seems to offer the obvious correct answer — if we want the President to have such powers we must amend the Constitution.

Yet if you consider how far we have strayed and how long we have been off the path, President Trump is doing nothing out of the ordinary, he is following a long history of extra-Constitutional (aka unconstitutional) action.  We have just accepted a broken government as the norm since at least 1861 when it comes to “national emergencies.”

If you tell a lie long enough, people believe it to be truth and the lie of expanded executive power has a long history.  I think this principle is even more powerful when that lie comes from someone you like, or applies to a situation you happen to agree with.  But that lie can only operate as truth with very dire consequences, the most obvious consequence would be that the lie operates as truth not only for the people you like but also the people you don’t like.

Some claim expansion of executive power began with the George Washington administration’s response to the whiskey rebellion. Yet in this instance, Congress authorized Washington to quell an “insurrection” which falls within the constitutional authority of both Congress and President. It was Congress that then began creating “stand-by laws” to give the President powers beyond the grant of the Constitution in time of “national emergency.” They should have proposed a Constitutional amendment, not passed a law. (Interestingly, Washington later pardoned everyone who was arrested during the rebellion, if they were not already acquitted.)

The first unilateral act of a president arose when Lincoln blockaded American ports and expanded military forces without Congress.  The Congress and the courts eventually went along and this became the confirmation and justification of the President’s emergency power.  Woodrow Wilson and FDR faced similar emergency power controversies and were not thwarted by Congress.  In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson started the “Presidential Proclamation” that triggered the availability of all so-called stand-by laws for these declarations of emergency.  The process came to a head when, after Truman proclaimed an emergency in response to Korean hostilities, the same order was used to wage war in Vietnam 22 years later. 

Congress, led by Senator Church, launched an investigation. One of numerous Congressional studies in 1973 showed that the Congress had already passed over 470 statutes granting the President “EXTRAORDINARY POWERS” during time of emergency.  In an attempt to restrain and proceduralize the use of emergency powers, perhaps restrain the monster they allowed to grow, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act on in September of 1976.

In light of the fact that Congress is not authorized through Congressional act to expand delegated authority, consider these two points from two constitutional delegates:

“There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void.  No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.” Federalist #78 — Alexander Hamilton

“…the power of the Constitution predominates.  Any thing (sic), therefore, that shall be enacted by Congress contrary thereto, will not have the force of law.” James Wilson, Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention 1787

The Constitution, as well, is not silent on this issue.  Article 6 clause 2 codifies the principles laid down by the above drafters of the Constitution when it says:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; …shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

Every law must be made, every federal action must be taken, “in pursuance” to the Constitution.  If that act is not specifically authorized by the Constitution, then the “Judges in every State” are NOT bound thereby.  What that means is the “National Emergencies Act,” “War Powers Act,” 8 US 1182- empowering the president to determine the admissibility of aliens, and many, many others are all unconstitutional delegations of power by Congress to the president.  Which makes them, by the terms of the Constitution AND the drafters of that document, null and void.

So the question is NOT: “If the President declares a national emergency and builds the wall, is that Constitutional?” That’s an easy question to answer, No. The question is “Will we keep pretending to live in a Constitutional Republic, while making it up as we go along?”  Other than electing a Congress that actually cares for the security, safety and integrity of the nation, there are two simple options: Amend the Constitution and have the states give the president this authority or stop pretending, get rid of the Constitution and go back to a monarchy.

ABOUT KRISANNE HALL, JD

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.

RELATED ARTICLE: Trump Has a Strong Legal Argument That He Can Declare National Emergency at Border

EDITORS NOTE: This column from The Revolutionary Act is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Anthony Garand on Unsplash.

Background Checks: No Impact on Criminals

We have seen a generation of gun-grabbers rise and fall. The new generation of gun-grabbers are pushing for the same tired and baseless policies that won’t so much as inconvenience criminals. We understand the emotional response to violence and the desire to “do something.”

But that “something” has to be the right thing, a policy that will be effective on the target population and is backed by sound evidence. To design a policy that will stop criminals from getting guns, the first step should be to find out where criminals get guns.

Fortunately, the Bureau of Justice Statistics within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice just this week released a report that provides this very information. The report is the “Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016” and its findings are quite clear.   

More than one in five prisoners in state or federal prisons (20.8%) possessed or used a firearm during their crime; 18.4% had or used a handgun.

A plurality – 43.2% – got their guns off the street or on the underground market which does not include gun shows, flea markets, or private sales. The underground market only includes “markets for stolen goods, middlemen for stolen goods, criminals or criminal enterprises, or individuals or groups involved in sales of illegal drugs.”

About ten percent (10.1%) acquired the gun from a retail source. This includes 8.2% whom acquired it from a licensed dealer at a retail source. Just under 7% bought the firearm under their own name and then at least 6.7% underwent a background check; we say “at least” because some number of prisoners are unaware if a check was conducted. The remaining 3.3% includes people who may not be aware they were submitted to a check because, for many people, the check is completed instantly. As you know, federal law requires firearms dealers to conduct background checks.

A quarter (25.3%) of prisoners acquired the firearm they had at the time of their crime from an individual; 14.5% of these bought, traded, borrowed, or rented the gun from a family member or friend. The other 10.8% were given the firearm as a gift or it was purchased for the prisoner.

That sounds like it likely includes straw purchases, which are a federal crime.

Theft was not uncommon, at 6.4%, though not as common as anti-gun organizations would have you believe.

The remaining 17.4% cited some other source; 6.9% found it at the scene of the crime or it was the victim’s, 4.6% say the gun was brought by someone else, and 5.9% from “other” sources. This last category is a catch-all, including sources that are different from all of the other sources listed in the report. It is important to note that none of the types of “other” sources had enough responses to warrant their own category.

In other words, there weren’t enough prisoners saying they bought a gun online or from a stranger to categorize these straw-man arguments into categories. Some quick, back of the envelope math shows that just under 5,200 prisoners surveyed reported having a gun during their criminal offense.

How would so-called universal background checks impact any of these categories?

First, you have to rule out the retail purchases because most already underwent a background check. You would also have to concede that those who obtained the firearm from a family member or friend wouldn’t be affected, because of the exemptions in so-called universal background checks laws for family members and… well, come on. If someone is going to give a known criminal a gun, then they’re not going to change their minds because of a law. It’s already a crime to knowingly give a gun to a prohibited person.

Sellers on the underground market aren’t going to start running background checks because they are, themselves, criminals. Burglars won’t stop burgling to get a background check run on the firearms they’re stealing.

Criminals who somehow manage find a gun at the scene of the crime through no action of their own wouldn’t be affected by a background check.

So, please, tell us: which source of firearms for criminals will dry up under so-called universal background checks?

Unless drug dealers and purveyors of stolen goods set up shop with clipboards, log books, and internet access to run background checks, criminals will still have a source of illegal guns.

Oh, and don’t forget that universal background checks don’t work.

Tell Your Members of Congress to Oppose “Universal” Background Check Bills

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

PODCAST: In Case of Emergency, Build Wall?

It was just last week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised the American people that her House would be “bipartisan and unifying.” Eight days later, there isn’t a scrap of evidence she meant it. After 20 days of waiting at the negotiating table, President Trump is considering going it alone on the border wall. One of the options being tossed around by the White House is declaring a national emergency — an idea some people think is too far-fetched. But is it? Legal experts say no.

Believe it or not, these types of national emergencies aren’t as unusual as you might think. In two years, President Trump has already declared three. Since 1976, when Congress gave the White House that authority, there have been 58 national emergency declarations — 31 of which, Breitbart’s Ken Klukowski explains, are still in effect today. That includes, Ken points out, the very first national emergency from Jimmy Carter on Iran-sponsored terrorism. But is it, I asked him on Thursday’s “Washington Watch,” a legitimate legal option for the border wall?

“Right now,” Ken said, “the president is going the extra mile with Senate Democrats. The law does not require him to negotiate. He is doing so, and I believe he’s doing so in good faith — trying to find a settlement for everyone to save face.” But, he went on, “in the event that Pelosi and Schumer continue to dig in their heels… the president has unconditional authority to declare a national emergency about anything.”

“Contrary to what you’re hearing from partisan Democrats — and also from hyperventilating media pundits, who are all of the sudden calling themselves legal experts — the fact that there [have] been 31 of these shows how common it is for presidents to do it. If Trump declares a border emergency, [then]… under [the U.S. code], the secretary of Defense can then order military units — including the Army Corps of Engineers and the other construction units of the U.S. military — to direct their personnel and their funding and money and machinery to construction projects… There are billions of dollars that are available to DOD to be able to undertake that project, if the president decides to declare a national emergency.”

After all, this is Defense Department money that’s already been approved by Congress. The president would simply be redirecting it to another national security crisis: the flood of illegal immigrants, drugs, and criminals crossing the border. And in this case, there’s already a precedent for using national emergency declaration to stop the flow of heroin and cocaine into the country. Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton used the same kind of declaration to deal with narcotics traffickers. As Ken argued in his column, “one of the deadliest drugs killing Americans right now, fentanyl, is made in China — but fully 85 percent of that lethal drug enters the United States through the Mexican border. Such a declaration would be consistent in scope and effect with many of the 31 current emergencies.”

Of course, as with everything this president does, there would almost certainly be lawsuits — even if it’s well within Trump’s legal power to act. “The reality,” Ken says, “is that you’ll always find someone who files a lawsuit… And if you pick the right judicial district, dominated by left-of-center judges, you’re running a pretty good odds that you’re going to get a judge who dares to go where no judge has gone before… We have seen some federal judges at the trial level act like they are nothing short of the resistance of Donald Trump. We have seen some outrageous judicial activist rulings from federal judges…” Even on issues where the Supreme Court would almost certainly side with the president, there’s a good chance the legal battle would put everything on hold for a good “12 or 18 months.”

Of course, “Can the president?” and “Should the president?” are two very different questions. Most people, Donald Trump included, would like to solve this problem legislatively. “I would like to do the deal through Congress,” he’s said. “It makes sense to do the deal through Congress… It would be nice if we can make a deal, but dealing with these people is ridiculous.” The longer Democrats refuse to do their jobs, the more creative Republicans will have to get in order to protect America.

For more on the immigration crisis, check out my column in today’s Washington Times, “Protecting America’s National Home.” Also, don’t miss my full interview with Ken Klukowski, as he takes a deeper look at the prospects of a national emergency declaration.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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United In Iniquity

Claiming to work for “peace and social justice,” in the US and around the world, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has, nevertheless,been rightly called “the most militant and aggressive of Christian anti-Israel groups.”  They boast of their history of non-violent activism, yet work to ultimately destroy the Jewish people and their ancient homeland, Israel, by inciting others to strive for Israel’s annihilation, often through violence.        

The AFSC, a Quaker group that, together with a British Quaker organization, began in 1917 as a wartime medical corps to assist civilian victims of World War I, aiding orphans and victims of famine and disease.  Their additional humanitarian work through Europe, Japan, India and China, helping African-, Native-, Mexican-, and Asian-Americans, certainly earned them the Nobel Peace Prize.  Yet, in the 1930s and through World War II, they helped non-religious Jews and Jews married to Christians, alleging that “religious Jews” were being helped by other organizations; they did not decline to help Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims based on the extent of their religiosity.  Therefore, despite the dire conditions of the Holocaust survivors – their suffering, losses, homes destroyed, and eagerness for peace in their ancient homeland – the organization instead promoted the repatriation of hostile Arabs into Israel, the Arabs who were eager and ready to attack the reborn Jewish state and implement their plans of genocide.  There can be no other interpretation but organizational antisemitism.  

CASE ONE

Today, the Friends have gathered some unexpected friends, some even from the Jewish community.  The controversial Rabbi Brant Rosen and other leftists have merged with the Quakers in an endeavor to devastate Israel’s economic survival. United by anti-Zionism, the two religiously-identified communities joined the Palestinians in a stealth, or civilizational, operation of jihad, a subtle war strategy to seriously harm Israel’s economy. 

For the cause of Arab settlement in the land, the AFSC adopted Hamas’s revised history, falsely claiming that these Arabs are indigenous “Palestinians,” whose return is justified. This is beyond absurd.  Historically, the Romans named the land mass Syria Palaestina to insult the Jewish inhabitants (~135 – 390 AD); it was never ruled by “Palestinians.”  Prof. Philip Hitti, leading Arab-American historian, firmly testified in 1946, “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history; absolutely not.”  Archaeological findings repeatedly unearth artifacts to verify centuries of Jewish history.

By 1921, the British Government, under the Palestine Mandate, tore away nearly four-fifths of the geographical territory (~35,000 sq. mi.) to create the new Transjordan, leaving a mere 20 percent for Jewish settlement in their ancestral, Biblical birthplace, yet the Arabs objected.  In 1948, having again rejected a larger slice of land for peace, the Arabs invaded and lost its aggressive war to the newly established State of Israel. The 1967 Six-Day War was yet another Israeli victory against the Arabs’ genocidal attacks, yet Israel offered to return 90% of the territories won in the interest of peace.  Israel has since returned all of Sinai to Egypt and, despite immense historical and Biblical Jewish ties, relinquished Gaza.  There is still no peace.   

The land that had never been autonomous became Israel’s by virtue of winning defensive wars. Therefore, “occupied” is a misnomer created to evoke Arab victimhood in the court of public opinion.  “Settlements” is another falsity because Israel’s constructions are legal under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, yet the AFSC has deliberately taken the opposing position.  UN Security Council Resolution 242 gave Israel the right to administer the territories gained in her self-protective war until peace is achieved, but the Arabs remain hostile and threatening, burning huge swaths of land and attacking Israeli citizens as they do in much of Europe, which is also under siege.

The Arabs who accepted Israel’s offer for themto remain in Israel with full citizenship in 1948 are thriving, along with their progeny, under conditions that greatly surpass life in Arab lands, but the Arabs who fled Israel for Gaza, following their armies’ instructions, were abandoned and have become an inhumane bargaining chip in the hoped-for conquest of Israel.

While Rosen expressed indignation at Israel’s ban upon their entering the country, denying the AFSC’s increased international outreach and spread of damaging propaganda about Israel, many Jews in the Diaspora wonder why Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry did not legislate the entry ban sooner.    

American Friends Service Committee is but one of Israel’s American-based adversaries that have been banned from entry.  Others include American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, National Students for Justice in Palestine, and US Campaign for Palestinian Rights who also seek to obliterate America’s solid ally, Israel, which does much to benefit America, including providing valuable intel, technological and medical innovation, and much more.

CASE TWO

Another destructive group, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), headquartered in the US, with branches in the UK and Norway, opposes every method of reprisal employed by Israel against her warring neighbors, which translates to a prohibition on all means of self-defense.  The Committee continually advances the false narratives of “occupation” and “Palestinian territories,” and one of its founders, Jeff Halper, another blighted Jewish surname, seeks to merge a Palestinian entity with Israel, virtually ensuring Israel’s obliteration. 

The ICAHD uses non-violent propaganda, books, films, and tours conducted to the territories to provide scenes of supposedPalestinianvictimization (althoughHamas rules Gaza).  However, as is the practice in any sovereign nation, it is Israeli law to demolish homes that do not conform to the legal principles of zoning and building laws on land that may be dedicated to parks and preserves, or that lacks the necessary infrastructure to support housing for anyone, including nomadic Bedouins with their camel livestock.  Furthermore, considerthat the UN purposely and illegally builds on land with historical significance to Israel.

It is also Israeli law to bulldoze the homes of families that spawn the jihadi terrorists who murder Jewish citizens, disciplinary demolition that is a proven deterrent.  Israel is now considering a law for the expulsion of the killers’ families.  Not only has Halper engaged in protesting the homes’ destruction, but he has had them rebuilt, defying the law and reason.  In 2005, he and ICAHD began a campaign to boycott Israel as an “apartheid” state until the “occupation is over,” and supported the 2010 “Freedom Flotilla” (such as Mavi Marmara), its purpose being to break Israel’s legal defensive blockade. 

As Arab leadership intentionally abjures negotiations for peace and pursues violence, the BDS movement works its psychological warfare against Israel with the buzz words, “occupation” and “colonialization,” both inapplicable in areas that were never self-governed by any but Israel.  BDS is meant to sculpt a Palestinian tie to the land and economically, socially, religiously, and intellectually malign Israel as the oppressor, so that the world will compliantly accept Israel’s extinction. (Note: this is one of many methods of making other countries Islam-compliant.)

For seventy years, in defiance of international law, the so-called “Friends” have been working to remove Jewish sovereignty from the land.  Its nonviolence is nevertheless an aspect of jihad, closing individual businesses (some employing Arabs) and obstructing international trade, costing Israel hundreds of millions of dollars and human treasure to counter the delegitimization.  The BDS movement aspires for Israel to be impoverished and weakened enough for the Palestinians to complete their conquest by the sword.

Another facet is to decry Israel’s legal wall construction that has saved thousands of innocent Jewish lives from the Palestinians’ invasive, brutal attacks.  (The same mentality condemns a wall at America’s southern border.)  The Quakers and other anti-Zionists also seek voting and other rights for “Palestinians” who originated from neighboring Arab countries and are not Israeli citizens, and a “right of return” for those who refused Israeli citizenship but who constitute a flood of warriors ready for invasion and conquest.      

Other like-minded groups banned from Israel are: France-Palestine Solidarity Association, BDS France; BDS Italy, The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Palestine Committee of Norway, Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, BDS Kampagne, BDS Chile, BDS South Africa, and BDS National Committee.  The support of Islam, its hatred of the kafir (non-Muslim), is a betrayal to our own survival, as well, because their agenda embraces far more than Israel.   

We recognize and condemn the hypocrisy of these Quakers and their collaborators who conspire for the acquisition of land that is a mere one-thousandth the size of the Muslim land mass, and the genocide of the Jewish state, while hiding under the virtuous guise of “non-violence.”  Make no mistake: their success in Israel would free them to increase their efforts in Europe and the Americas.  Perhaps, within this organization, there may still be some with the conscience to condemn the hypocrites, rebel against the leadership, call for justice, and reverse the odious boycott? 

Beware: Israel’s world-renowned resolve is for the advancement of civilization; Islam’s resolve is for world domination.   

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Arno Smit on Unsplash.

VIDEO: These Are The Families Impacted By Illegal Immigration

President Donald J. Trump stated, “This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. It’s just common sense.”

The GOP has posted the video below on YouTube.

RELATED ARTICLE:

Retired California Cop: ‘It’s Time for Officers To Stand Up Against Sanctuary Policies’

CNN Reports A Grisly Scene Near The Border Hours After Jim Acosta Took A Selfie Video Boasting Of Tranquility

FLASHBACK: Democrats Built Tall Fence To Keep Protesters Out Of Their 2016 Convention

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Kat J on Unsplash.

The Irony of Refusing to Swear in on the Bible

Last week, the first openly bisexual senator was sworn in…and she refused to be sworn in on the Holy Bible, as is customary. She instead opted for a law book with the Arizona Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, because, she says, of her “love for the Constitution.”

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has a first name that ironically means, in Latin, “Follower of Christ.” In addition to being openly bisexual, she is also listed, according to the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life, as the “only member of the Senate who does not identify as a member of a religion.”

Why do we have this system of swearing in public officials in the first place? And swearing in on the Bible? And saying, “So help me, God.”—which, by the way she did (indirectly, at least)?  Who cares about such “antiquated” customs?  Do these symbols matter? Well, Senator Sinema has a role in our government, thanks in part to the Bible for the creation of that government.

I wrote a whole book about how the Bible played a pivotal role in the founding of America. And the more I study the subject, the more convinced I become of it.

Historically, taking oaths is a way to seal one’s commitment —but to do it with God as a witness. Just as marital vows are oaths before God.

George Washington noted in his Farewell Address (1796) that if we undermine religion (in his day, he was speaking to a largely Christian audience), we undermine oaths and fidelity.

Said Washington,

“Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?”

If there is no God to Whom we shall give an account, we can do whatever we want.

When George Washington was sworn in as our first president under the Constitution, he used the Holy Bible. After being sworn in with his hand on the Bible, Washington even bent down and kissed the holy book. Dr. D. James Kennedy once remarked of that action: “Why, that’s enough to give the ACLU apoplexy!”

I’ve seen documentary footage where President Truman, our 33rd president, also deferentially kissed the Holy Bible as he was being sworn in.

But some people today don’t even want to be sworn in on the holy book. Meanwhile, some recent Muslim elected officials expressed an interest in swearing in on Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Qur’an—but, as Bill Federer points out, the reason Jefferson got a copy of the Muslim holy book was to try and figure out why Muslims were, without provocation, attacking U.S. ships in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Early 19th century jihad ultimately led to our Marines being sent “to the shores of Tripoli” to get Islamic attackers to stop stealing our men on the sea and selling them into slavery. 

One of the key points about America’s heritage that is often overlooked is that the Biblical concept of covenant gave rise ultimately to our two key founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

They are written agreements, under God, signed by the participants. More importantly, our founding documents are the culmination of about a hundred or so compacts and frames of government created by the Puritans and other Christians, using a Biblical covenant as the model.

I once interviewed Dr. Donald S. Lutz of the University of Houston, who has been studying constitutions for decades. He told our viewers, “Without a belief in the Bible, we would not have the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution as we have it.” 

In his book, The Origins of American Constitutionalism, Lutz notes:

“The American constitutional tradition derives in much of its form and content from the Judeo-Christian tradition as interpreted by the radical Protestant sects to which belonged so many of the original European settlers in British North America.”

For example, the first fully developed Constitution on American soil was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639), which declares the purpose of the colony is “the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” This Constitution was inspired by a sermon based on Deuteronomy 1:13 and 1:15, where Moses essentially implements “the consent of the governed” around 1400 B.C. This is just one example of hundreds of how the Scriptures helped pave the way to create the United States.

No wonder the U. S. Supreme Court declared in 1892, when it reviewed all the evidence:

“These and many others which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” 

Senator Sinema might not like that. But the very authority she has been given comes courtesy of those who sacrificed so much to create this nation in the first place, with the help of God and His holy Word.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Kiwihug on Unsplash.

The Problem Isn’t the Poor. It’s Young Men on Welfare Who Could Be Working.

Left-wing media stalwarts such as Newsweek, Huffington Post, and Salon launched a barrage of fake news after I appeared on “Fox & Friends” recently to discuss new Agriculture Department rules tightening work requirement on food stamps.

Unfortunately, the now all-too-common disinformation campaigns from the left, distorting or simply lying about what our president says or does, or what conservative commentators like me say, just simply hurts our nation.

The oxygen of freedom is information. When citizens get fake news instead, they become slaves to the agendas being pushed by politically motivated media machines.

The Huffington Post headline read, “‘Fox & Friends’ Guest Says People On Food Stamps Watch Porn Instead of Working.”

You can imagine the mail I got from those outraged by my supposedly heartless remarks about our nation’s less fortunate.

But I didn’t say what the left-wing media foghorns reported in their headlines. As result, not only were many misled, but also they weren’t informed about what I did say about two major problems confronting our nation.

One, there are great inefficiencies in our food stamp program, which, at $65 billion in federal spending annually, is one of our largest federal welfare programs. And two, the nation has a major problem of millions of able-bodied prime-age males who have dropped out of the workforce.

The proposed rules from the Agriculture Department would tighten down on the latitude states have in providing waivers for existing work requirements for receiving food stamps.

Is this aimed at clamping down on the less fortunate and the needy? Certainly not, and I explicitly said so in the “Fox & Friends” interview. Twice I said the “crisis is not the poor.” It’s about “able-bodied, nonworking, mostly males.”

The Agriculture Department rule explicitly states that the target is “able-bodied adults without dependents between 18-49” and does not apply to the “elderly, disabled, or pregnant women.”

Estimates are that the total number that will be affected is 775,000. We’re talking about 2 percent of the 40 million people currently receiving food stamp benefits. With the average annual expenditure per person at $1,500, moving these able-bodied individuals into the workforce would save $1.2 billion in food stamp expenditures per year and add 775,000 productive citizens to the work force.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Some seven to nine million food-stamp recipients capable of work report no income.”

American Enterprise Institute scholar Nicholas Eberstadt has written about our national crisis of prime working age, 25-55, nonworking men.

The labor force participation rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics consists of those working or actively seeking work as a percentage of the population.

In 1965, as Eberstadt reports, the labor force participation rate of prime-age working males was 96.7 percent. Today, it is 89 percent. So almost 8 percent fewer men aged 25-55 are working or actively seeking work today compared with 1965.

Eberstadt calls this “an ever-growing army of jobless men no longer even looking for work—over 7 million between 25 and 55, the prime of working life.”

He notes that one defining characteristic of these millions of men who have dropped out of the workforce is an absence of family. They are either not married or if they have children, they don’t live with them.

What are these work dropouts doing?

They spend 800 more hours per year watching TV and movies than unemployed men, 1,200 more hours than working men, and 1,400 more hours than working women. Thirty-one percent admit to illegal drug use, compared with 8 percent of working men.

We have a huge problem that carries a great moral and economic cost to the nation.

But all this doesn’t interest the left-wing media. They’d rather just broadcast that I said the poor are “watching porn.”

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Star Parker

Star Parker is a columnist for The Daily Signal and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Twitter:
@UrbanCURE.

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

Slowing Productivity and Rising Inequality Have a Common Driver: Government Intervention

Mainstream economists are overlooking a key connection.

A growing chorus of alarmist voices decries the rising economic inequality in the Western world, especially in the United States. Surprisingly enough, the same mainstream analysts complain about the anemic growth of labor productivity without seeing the correct link between the two.

Data shows a strong correlation between labor productivity and economic inequality (the two charts below). From the end of the Second World War until the mid-1970s, labor productivity grew at a robust rate of almost 3 percent per annum (p.a.), while income inequality declined. Afterward, both trends reversed—labor productivity slowed to below 2 percent growth p.a. on average and has almost stagnated since the Great Recession, while both wealth and income inequality expanded steadily.

What common factor could explain the two divergent trends that the mainstream analysts seem to overlook? In the 1940s, Mises was impressed by the ”miraculous” rise in the standards of living of American wage earners, which had been going on for more than two centuries. For him, the answer was straightforward: capital accumulation is the driving force behind both labor productivity and standards of living convergence.

Building on Mises’s work, Rothbard explained in detail what capital accumulation requires: (i) new capital investment that lengthens the structure of production and (ii) technological progress that overcomes the diminishing returns accompanying the increase in the supply of capital goods. However, Mises also warned that depletion of the capital stock would hamper capital accumulation and labor productivity. Unfortunately, mainstream analysts and the United States seem to have forgotten this valuable lesson.

In terms of technological progress, the US has maintained its world leadership during past decades. It ranks second in the world to Switzerland in terms of both innovation and business sophistication, spends more for Research & Innovation than the OECD or EU on average relative to GDP, and makes up the majority of the top 25 universities in the world. Moreover, it has issued the same amount of patents over the last three decades compared with the previous 150 years.

In terms of capital stock, the picture is completely different. According to estimates of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the stock of private non-residential assets per worker has increased in real terms at about 1 percent p.a. from 1947 to 2009 and stagnated since the Great Recession (left chart below). However, BEA’s alleged sustained pace of capital growth seems hard to reconcile with the falling private investment and savings since the mid-1970s (right chart below).

In addition, the BEA methodology presents some serious shortcomings. Except for cars, BEA uses the “perpetual inventory method” to estimate fixed assets. According to it, the value of the capital stock is indirectly estimated as the sum of past investment flows minus the estimated depreciation. It means that all past investments are considered sound by default, which is certainly not the case nowadays when recurrent booms and busts cause significant volumes of malinvestments. Other question marks relate to the accurate estimation of depreciation rates in the face of rapid technological progress and the use of GDP deflators as their accuracy is unreliable, especially with regard to real estate investment.

All these considerations have led not only us but also the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) to suspect that BEA’s estimates of the US capital stock are overvalued. It is intriguing that the FRB adjusts the BEA estimates downward, especially with regard to real estate assets— “structures” in BEA’s jargon when it uses them as input for the calculation of the capital stock in manufacturing. As a result, there is a substantial difference between BEA and FRB estimates of the evolution of the volume of manufacturing capital stock from 1952 to 2016, in particular for the real estate component (left chart below). Therefore, we tried to recalculate the BEA estimate of the total stock of private non-residential capital per employee by extrapolating the difference between the two manufacturing indexes coming from BEA and FRB (right chart below).

The new results suggest that the real stock of capital per worker grew in a clear and sustained manner only until the end of the 1970s and fell afterward until the trough of the Great Recession. The recalculated capital stock is more consistent with the observed declines in investment and productivity since the mid-1970s and also confirms Mises’s prediction that wrong policies would lead to capital consumption.

For the United States, the failed economic policy is the exponential growth of government intervention in the economy in the 20th century, which stifled entrepreneurship and capital accumulation. This is obvious in the rise of both government spending that redistributes away economic resources from their originators (left chart below) and the amount of regulatory burden (right chart below). Another key factor taking a toll on capital endowment is inflation, which gained traction following the de facto abolishment of the gold standard in 1971.

Most importantly, inflationary policies trigger boom-bust cycles via the artificial lowering of interest rates below their free-market level. In a recent article on the business cycle, Salerno emphasizes that “overconsumption” and “malinvestment” are the two salient marks of the boom—not “overinvestment,” as wrongly understood by some mainstream critics. It is no surprise that the capital stock per worker dropped during the business cycles that have occurred regularly since the 1970s and that culminated in the Great Recession. The illusion of the boom fuels not only capital consumption but also the polarization of wealth and incomes in the society. The fiduciary credit expansion fuels an increase in asset prices, most commonly on stock exchanges and in real estate (charts below).

Although starting from a limited number of transactions, all owners calculate their net worth with the newly inflated asset prices, boosting the value of household assets in excess of liabilities. As a result, the rich appear to get even richer in an economy on steroids. This explains why both the US national wealth has grown much faster than national income since the end of the 1970s (left chart below), and the number of wealthy people increased significantly (right chart below).

The rising inequality since the 1970s has been fueled by both the decline in labor productivity and monetary expansion inflating asset prices. Both are perverse effects of government interventionist policies, which led to a gradual erosion of the US capital stock per employee. This is the correct linkage between inequality and productivity as explained by Mises and other Austrian School economists.

People have different skills and preferences, so the free market does not lead to a complete equalization of incomes and wealth. Nevertheless, it does ensure the proper allocation of capital to increase labor productivity and satisfy the most urgent needs of consumers. As a result, the gap between the well-off and the poor is not only gradually diminishing but also gets less significant in terms of consumption. Eventually, the disadvantage of wealth inequality becomes mostly a psychological one. As long as the capitalist consumes only a fraction of his wealth and invests the rest into productive businesses, the real beneficiary of the increase in labor productivity is the poorer part of society.

This article was reprinted from the Mises Institute.

COLUMN BY

Mihai Macovei

Dr. Mihai Macovei is an associated researcher at the Ludwig von Mises Institute Romania and works for an international organization in Brussels, Belgium.

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

Data Show California Is a Living Example of the Good Intentions Fallacy

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

During a speech at Harvard several years ago, Charlie Munger related a story about a surgeon who removed “bushel baskets full of normal gallbladders” from patients. The doctor was eventually removed, but much later than he should have been.

Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, wondered what motivated the doctor, so he asked a surgeon who participated in the removal of the physician.

“He thought that the gallbladder was the source of all medical evil, and if you really love your patients, you couldn’t get that organ out rapidly enough,” the physician explained.

The doctor was not motivated by profit or sadism; he very much believed he was doing right.

The anecdote is a perfect illustration of the righteousness fallacy, which Barry Brownstein noted is rampant in modern politics and a key driver of democratic socialism.

The Righteousness Fallacy (also known as the fallacy of good intentions) is described by author Dr. Bo Bennett as the idea that one is correct because their intentions are pure.

It recently occurred to me that California is a perfect example of this fallacy. Consider these three facts about the Golden State:

  1. California spends about $98.5 billion annually on welfare—the most in the US—but has the highest poverty rate in America.
  2. California has the highest income tax rate in the US, at 13.3 percent, but the fourth greatest income inequality of the 50 states.
  3. California has one of the most regulated housing markets in America, yet it has the highest homeless population in American and ranks 49th (per capita) in housing supply.

That politicians would persist with harmful policies should come as little surprise. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once observed the uncanny proclivity of politicians “to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

In his book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman described the danger of such thinking.

[The threat comes] … from men of good intentions and good will who wish to reform us. Impatient with the slowness of persuasion and example to achieve the great social changes they envision, they’re anxious to use the power of the state to achieve their ends and confident in their ability to do so. Yet… Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it. 

I don’t doubt that California lawmakers, like the physician who was removing healthy gall bladders, believe they are doing the right thing. Yet they, like the physician, need to wake up to reality and realize they aren’t making people better.

COLUMN BY

Jon Miltimore

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. Serving previously as Director of Digital Media at Intellectual Takeout, Jon was responsible for daily editorial content, web strategy, and social media operations. Before that, he was the Senior Editor of The History Channel Magazine, Managing Editor at Scout.com, and general assignment reporter for the Panama City News Herald. Jon also served as an intern in the speechwriting department under George W. Bush.

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

Are AR-15 Rifles a Public Safety Threat? Here’s What the Data Say

Is it true that the AR-15, a popular firearm owned by millions of Americans, is a unique threat to public safety?

From Parkland, Florida, to San Bernardino, California, the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and its variants have seemingly become the weapons of choice for mass shooters in the United States.

Many people simply cannot believe that regular civilians should be able to legally own so-called “weapons of war,” which they believe should only be in the hands of the military.

According to Pew Research, for example, 81 percent of Democrats and even 50 percent of Republicans believe the federal government should ban “assault-style rifles” like the AR-15. Given the massive amount of carnage AR-15s and similar rifles have caused, it makes sense that the civilian population simply cannot be trusted to own such weapons, right?

Perhaps, but is it really true that the AR-15, a popular firearm owned by millions of Americans, is a unique threat to public safety, so dangerous that it deserves to be banned or even confiscated by the federal government?

It cannot be emphasized enough that any homicide is a tragedy, but in order to get a sense of how dangerous to public safety “assault-style” rifles are, it’s useful to compare their usage in homicide to other methods.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) are the two authoritative sources for homicide statistics in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the CDC reports “produce more accurate homicide trends at the national level” because they capture less under-reporting than the FBI statistics.

However, the homicide data recorded by the CDC includes all homicides committed by civilians regardless of criminal intent. The FBI data instead focuses on intentional homicides (i.e murder) known to law enforcement and excludes non-negligent homicide (i.e manslaughter.)

According to the BJS, the FBI data is “better suited for understanding the circumstances surrounding homicide incidents.” This is especially true given that the FBI, but not the CDC, records the type of firearm used in a given homicide. For the purposes of this analysis, the data from the FBI will be used.

There are two further limitations of FBI data worth noting.

Firstly, the FBI reports do not look at “assault-style” rifles specifically, but rather, murders involving all types of rifles, whether they are committed with an AR-15 or a hunting rifle.

Secondly, each year there are a few thousand homicide cases where the type of firearm used goes unreported to the FBI. This means that some murders listed under “unknown firearm” may, in fact, be rifle murders.

To account for this under-reporting, we will extrapolate from rifles’ share of firearm murders where the type of weapon is known in order to estimate the number of “unknown” firearms that were in actuality rifle homicides.  

If we take the time to look at the raw data provided by the FBI, we find that all rifles, not just “assault-style rifles,” constitute on average 340 homicides per year from 2007 through 2017 (see Figure 1.). When we adjust these numbers to take under-reporting into account, that number rises to an average of 439 per year.

Figure 2 compares rifle homicides to homicides with other non-firearm weapons. Believe it or not, between 2007 and 2017, nearly 1,700 people were murdered with a knife or sharp object per year. That’s almost four times the number of people murdered by an assailant with any sort of rifle.

Figure 1. The Relative and Absolute Frequency of Rifle Homicides 2007-2017

Figure 2. Homicides per year by weapon 2007 – 2017

In any given year, for every person murdered with a rifle, there are 15 murdered with handguns, 1.7 with hands or fists, and 1.2 with blunt instruments. In fact, homicides with any sort of rifle represent a mere 3.2 percent of all homicides on average over the past decade.

Given that the FBI statistics pertain to all rifles, the homicide frequency of “assault-style” rifles like the AR-15 is necessarily lesser still, as such firearms compose a fraction of all the rifles used in crime.

According to a New York Times analysis, since 2007, at least “173 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States involving AR-15s.”

That’s 173 over a span of a decade, with an average of 17 homicides per year. To put this in perspective, consider that at this rate it would take almost one-hundred years of mass shootings with AR-15s to produce the same number of homicide victims that knives and sharp objects produce in one year.

With an average of 13,657 homicides per year during the 2007-2017 timeframe, about one-tenth of one percent of homicides were produced by mass shootings involving AR-15s.

Mass shootings involving rifles like the AR-15 can produce dozens of victims at one time, and combined with extensive media coverage of these events, many people have been led to believe that such rifles pose a significant threat to public safety.   

However, such shootings are extremely rare, and a look at the FBI data informs us that homicide with these types of rifles represents an extremely small fraction of overall homicide violence. Banning or confiscating such firearms from the civilian population would likely produce little to no reduction in violent crime rates in America.

COLUMN BY

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission. Image Credit: Flickr-Aero Precision AC-15 | by Tac6 Media | CC BY 2.0

Firearms Industry Opposes Assault Weapons Ban

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition, today announced that it opposes the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 introduced in the U.S. Senate this week.

The legislation introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), like earlier versions, relies on wrongfully defining commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles based on certain cosmetic features. The new version of this legislation, however, expands ways to ban the most-popular center-fire rifle in America. Since the original Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, more than 16 million of these rifles have been legally purchased for lawful purposes.

“It is disappointing to see politicians continue to pursue a failed policy agenda that has proven ineffective in improving public safety and will deny law-abiding citizens their Constitutional right,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel. “Despite what proponents may say, the record shows that Sen. Feinstein’s original 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban had no demonstrable impact on reducing crime and this one would be equally ineffective.”

Since the original ban, firearms ownership has increased while the criminal misuse of firearms has steadily dropped. FBI crime statistics demonstrate there is no justification for banning modern sporting rifles

Senator Feinstein continues to mislead the American public by demonizing semi-automatic rifles based on external, cosmetic features that have no bearing on the function of a firearm, labelling them with a term invented in 1998 by the Violence Policy Center’s Josh Sugarmann for the purpose of confusing and misleading the public into believing commonly owned semi-automatic rifles are equivalent to fully automatic machine guns. Sugarmann wrote, “anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun (and) – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions of these weapons.” In reality, modern sporting rifles operate in the same manner as other semi-automatic firearms, firing one round with each pull and release of the trigger.

About NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

De Blasio’s Plan For New York Universal Health Care Is Smoke And Mirrors.

On January 7th, the same day President Trump appeared on national television to discuss immigration, the government shutdown, and border security, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that the City of New York will guarantee health care for everyone regardless of insurance or immigration status.  In all, the plan will cover 600,000 people, half of whom are undocumented, and he is going to do it for $100 million.  In fact, argued the mayor, the program will not cost the city anything because of the savings realized from the dramatic reductions in emergency room care.

In defense of the plan, De Blasio averred that health care is a right and that it is time for New Yorkers to start conducting their affairs as such.  Since the federal government is trying to disrupt our health care system, he proclaimed, it is time for New Yorkers to take matters into their own hands and guarantee people’s inherent right to health care.  

Despite De Blasio’s uncontained enthusiasm, there are two fatal problems with his program.  First, as we know and the left continues to ignore, health carenot a right.  And second, in point of fact, his amazing program adds virtually nothing to what New Yorkers already have at their disposal

Health Care Is Not A Right.

What is a right?  

There are many different kinds of rights. First, there is the undisputed interest. This is what attaches when one has a just or legal claim or title upon a property or object, such as when one strikes gold in a Nevada minefield. Under those circumstances, the person owning the land or declaring his or her stake upon it has a right to that land and to the minerals within it.  This right is commensurate with ownership or possession.  Since health care is not a defined, palpable property, then this cannot be the type of right of which De Blasio speaks.  

A right can also be statutory; created by government.  In this case, the “right’ is given to you by the government.  One example is the right to a trial by jury.  Here, one has the undisputed access to a trial by jury because the state has declared it to be the so.  This particular right is based on the foundational principles giving rise to the United States, the declarations contained within the Bill of Rights, and guaranteed by the constitutions of the various states.  

A statutory right is not inherently yours, as the government has provided it for you.  In other words, there would be no trial by jury; no trial at all in fact; if it weren’t for the fact that the government constructed the framework with which to provide it.  Generally, this kind of right is associated with a price tag.  It takes money to hire a defense attorney, a prosecuting attorney, a judge, and a building in which to conduct it.  And yes, the jury is hired as well.  Since no American government has declared a statutory right to health care, this too is not the type of right to which De Blasio is referring.  

The third is the fundamental right, or human right; the ones the Founders called “inalienable.”  These rights are afforded to us by the Creator.  They belong to us.  They are not for government to give or to take away, although under some circumstances, through the consent of the governed, government may regulate them.  Our inalienable rights include a right to life, liberty, the pursuit of property, the right to labor, the right to speak, the right to seek the truth, the right to defend yourself, the right to bear arms, the right to your own beliefs, and of course, the right to pursue happiness.  Each of these is yours by right.  They are inherent in you.  

It appears this last category of right is the one to which De Blasio refers when he speaks of a right to health care, but he would be wrong.  

You cannot have a right to health care because you need others to realize it.  What isyours, like the right to pursue happiness or property, is your right to pursuehealth care.  

So, is health care a privilege? Yes, it is.  

It is a privilege to have someone toil over you.  It is a privilege to have someone attend to you.  It is a privilege to have someone sell you something.  So when De Blasio says health care is a right, he is wrong.  It doesn’t matter how many times he says it and repeats it, and that all the liberals say it and repeat it.  It doesn’t matter that 100% of all people are convinced that health care is a right, it still doesn’t make it a right because you can’t force another person to slave and toil over you to obtain the product or service. 

What is a right is your freedom to approach someone offering the service and to ask him or her to provide the service.  That is the pursuit of health care and that is your right.  This is exactly in keeping with Benjamin Franklin’s words, “The Constitution only give people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

De Blasio’s Plan Is Mathematically Impossible.

De Blasio says he is going to cover 600,000 people with $100 million.  This would mean that his health care plan would cover 600,000 individual lives at a price tag of $167.00 per person per year.  

Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.

In point of fact, what De Blasio says he is going to achieve for New York for the first time in the city’s history, New York already has.  New York City already spends $8 billion per year on health care to treat 1.1 million people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to care.  This includes the undocumented.  The effort traces back to the 18th century with the inception of Belleview Hospital. Anyone without insurance can go there to get treated, either through the emergency room or through a primary care doctor.  

So if all these things already exist, what’s De Blasio offering that’s new?  

Nothing really, just better customer service.  

New York HHC Director Mitchell Katz saidwhen asked on the matter, “You can definitely walk into any emergency room, you can go to a clinic, but what is missing is the good customer service to ensure that you get an available appointment. . . That’s what we’re missing and the mayor is providing.”  

The New York Times seemed to agree when it wrote,  “The $100 million would go to both establishing the customer service component and hiring additional doctors and nurses.”  

Adding to the lacklusterness of the proposal is the uncertainty in the details, as is often the case when politicians try to take credit for nothing.  According to The New York Times, “. . . officials could not provide a breakdown of how much would be spent on each [component of the program].  Indeed, details of how those seeking care could do so under the new plan were not immediately clear, nor was an exact start date.”  The Federalist Pages met with the same problem in its review of De Blasio’s proposal.

The fact of the matter is that, predictably, the City of New York’s less-than-Utopian system is already present and operating; with a shortfall, of course.  For years New York’s hospital system has been under severe financial strain.  Indeed, according to New York’s Independent Budget Office, New York hospitals anticipate budget shortfalls of more than $156 million in 2018, increasing to $1.8 billion in 2022.

As expected, De Blasio continues to deceitfully sell fake, utopic visions.  It’s high time sound policy analysts call him out on it.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. It is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash.