The Curry Wall: Preventing access to public information. Maybe we should “recycle” politicians?

Putting stuff into the yellow-topped curbside recycling bins may make homeowners feel virtuous, but it probably isn’t saving the taxpayers any money.

The popular notion is that the garbage is sold and the operation breaks even or makes a profit.

Not quite.

The city does get $1.5 million in revenue, but it spends $2.2 million, not even counting the cost of collection. (It also avoids using space in the landfill.)

What is more, the prospects are dim for improving the situation.

Waste Management, which is heavily involved in trying to make recycling work, has been closing recycling centers and its CEO has noted: “To be sustainable overtime, recycling operations must make economic sense.”

The reasons that recycling is losing ground are that processing costs are up and commodity prices are down.

Contamination is a major problem and is the main reason much of the material collected after considerable time and expense ends up in a landfill, by a circuitous route.

Homeowners can help by recycling all empty bottles, cans and paper, and keeping food, liquids and loose plastic bags out of the recycling bin.

Turning garbage into gold isn’t magic.

Duval County collected nearly 3 million tons of solid waste last year. Only five other counties had more.

One interesting note: Among the largest counties, Duval collects the most waste per capita – an eye-opening 17.3 pounds per person per day. That number has been growing since 2013.

Duval had a recycling rate of 58 percent, which was better than the top five but more waste went into landfill than four of the top five, because Duval burns almost no solid waste. Hillsborough recycles less but burns 27 percent of the waste it collects and Palm Beach burns 36 percent.

At one time, Duval burned much of its waste. During the 1980s there was a proposal to build an incinerator that would produce energy, but it failed to pass the City Council.

Florida, incidentally, has an ambitious goal of reaching 75 percent recycling by 2020, but isn’t even meeting the current 60 percent goal.

One reason is that the commercial sector generates two-thirds of the waste. Household recycling alone simply won’t do the job.

Since recycling, burying and burning all entail a cost, the question is whether Jacksonville is using the most cost/efficient mix of waste disposal.

It affects everyone. Currently, using recycling is optional. It could become mandatory and even more burdensome on the homeowner if he is required to separate materials himself.

We wanted to ask City Hall about this and other matters pertaining to solid waste disposal but were unable to break through the Curry Wall, which prevents access to public information.

As the recent Task Force on Open Government noted, the Curry administration seals off access to public officials in order to “control the message,” which is one way of saying “spin it in the mayor’s favor.”

We couldn’t find the information on the city’s Web site (also criticized by the task force) so we went to the people who are supposed to provide the public with information.

Mayor Lenny Curry’s highly paid public information officer gave us several snarky replies to our requests, then basically told us to go get the information ourselves from the state government. That is where we obtained the figures about waste collection and disposal.

It doesn’t tell us anything about whether the city’s costly recycling program is efficient or worthwhile, but Eye on Jacksonville will continue to seek ways to climb Curry’s Wall and obtain information.

COLUMN BY

LLOYD BROWN

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared on Eye on Jacksonville. It is republished with permission.

Why a Judge Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional, and What Policymakers Should Do Next

A judge has declared Obamacare unconstitutional—but the case is far from over.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, granted a motion for summary judgement in favor of 20 states led by Texas that had filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act on Friday.

Now that O’Connor has ruled, the losing side is sure to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately the Supreme Court.

However, as the case continues to wind its way through the legal system, it is imperative that policymakers pursue real health care reform. Obamacare isn’t working for too many American families and individuals slammed with high premiums and few choices. Rather than looking for ways to keep Obamacare in place amid these legal challenges, lawmakers should pursue real solutions.

The Judge’s Reasoning in Striking Down Obamacare

As part of the last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress repealed the financial penalty associated with failing to comply with the individual mandate, effective in 2019.

In 2012, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate by the narrowest of margins when Chief Justice John Roberts, providing the deciding vote, devised a novel theory construing the penalty associated with violating the individual mandate as a tax that Congress has the power to levy under the Constitution.

Texas argues that once the penalty is reduced to $0, it can no longer be considered a legitimate tax, and that therefore the individual mandate would no longer have a constitutional leg to stand on.

Moreover, Texas argues, in upholding the individual mandate, the Supreme Court appeared to rely on the argument that Congress considered the individual mandate to be a central—indeed, indispensable—component of Obamacare that is not “severable” from the rest of its provisions, and that without it, the rest of the law should be invalidated.

A group of 17 states led by California are defending the law, arguing that even a tax of $0 is still a tax, and that it was never Congress’ intent to get rid of the rest of Obamacare when it repealed the financial penalty associated with the individual mandates as part of last year’s tax bill.

In granting the plaintiffs’ motion, O’Connor stated, showing his agreement with Texas’ argument:

The [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] eliminated that [individual mandate] tax. The Supreme Court’s reasoning in NFIB—buttressed by other binding precedent and plain text—thus compels the conclusion that the individual mandate may no longer be upheld under the tax power. And because the individual mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause—as the Supreme Court already held.

Finally, Congress stated many times unequivocally—through enacted text signed by the president—that the individual mandate is “essential” to the ACA. And this essentiality, the [Affordable Care Act’s] text makes clear, means the mandate must work ‘together with the other provisions’ for the Act to function as intended. All nine justices to review the [Affordable Care Act] acknowledged this text and Congress’s manifest intent to establish the individual mandate as the [Affordable Care Act’s] ‘essential’ provision. The current and previous administrations have recognized that, too. Because rewriting the ACA without its ‘essential’ feature is beyond the power of an Article III court, the Court thus adheres to Congress’s textually expressed intent and binding Supreme Court precedent to find the individual mandate is inseverable from the [Affordable Care Act’s] remaining provisions.

What Should Be Next

But the legal fight aside, we need a better health care solution than Obamacare.

One of Obamacare’s core conceits was that what (allegedly) worked in Massachusetts would also work on a national scale. That hasn’t borne out.

Instead, Obamacare led to years of increasing costs and decreasing choices. Premiums doubled in the first four years of the program. Millions lost the coverage they used to have. Americans found it harder to pick the right plan and doctor, as health plan choices declined and provider networks narrowed. Frustrated providers are drowning in red tape and increasingly feeling burned out. Meanwhile, taxpayers are on the hook for the money needed to paper over Obamacare’s flawed structure.

Those who seem to benefit most from Obamacare are big insurance companies that embraced the law and receive a steady stream of taxpayer subsidies and politicians who made endless promises to reform Obamacare but failed to deliver.

Real Solutions for Pre-Existing Conditions

Regardless of these facts, expect many in Congress to call for immediate restoration of Obamacare in the name of protecting the sick and people with pre-existing conditions.

Some on the left claim Congress must protect Obamacare because only Obamacare allows Americans with pre-existing conditions to get coverage. That’s an irresponsible, false dilemma and Congress should reject it.  

There are steps that states can take right now to ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected, even if Obamacare ultimately goes away.

Congress should let states review their health care regulations and pursue innovative ways to make coverage more affordable and accessible to Americans—regardless of their income or medical status.  Every state legislature is about to go into session in early 2019, so this is both a desirable and possible approach.

Empower the States

Congress does have a role to play in helping families and individuals get the quality private coverage they want, and helping health care professionals meet their needs. Conservatives have a proposal to achieve this: the Health Care Choices Proposal, which undoes Obamacare’s damage by letting states innovate.

Under Obamacare, insurance companies receive taxpayer subsidies dollar for dollar as they raise prices.  This proposal does away with that flawed spending scheme.

Instead, it would convert existing Obamacare spending into a grant that states would use to ensure chronically-ill patients have access to the health coverage of their choice. Greater flexibility and resources to the states means that all Americans, even those who are chronically sick, would have access to more health plans at better prices.

The Health Care Choices Proposal would lower premiums up to an estimated 32 percent and ensure that everyone can access a quality private coverage arrangement of their choice.

And everyone who gets a subsidy could decide what coverage to use it for, including private or employer-sponsored health insurance.

Individuals and families would be able to decide what coverage arrangement works for them, and decide whether to work directly with a doctor for primary care and buy catastrophic coverage, or get a plan that covers more costs up front. The proposal would be especially helpful to the working poor, who may want to have private coverage but lack the means to pay for it.

For most people, this is a much better option than what happens today: being pushed onto a government-controlled plan a bureaucrat thinks is best for them.

This proposal would build on a promising, emerging trend already happening in the states. When states have been given even a little bit of freedom from Obamacare’s mandates, they’ve been able to lower premiums using tools that ensure that the sick still retain access to care.

Politicians have long promised to replace Obamacare with solutions that help everyone. It’s time to deliver—no matter which way the courts go.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Marie Fishpaw

Marie Fishpaw

Marie Fishpaw is director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.

Portrait of John G. Malcolm

John G. Malcolm is the vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, overseeing The Heritage Foundation’s work to increase understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law. Read his research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: The Right Way to Overhaul Our Health Care System


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Paul Hennessy/Polaris/Newscom.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COLUMN BY

Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler

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

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

The Case for Privatizing Social Security Just Got Stronger

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This International Liberty article was republished with permission.

COLUMN BY

Illegal Immigration and the Cost of Stupidity

Boggles the mind. I mean really, have a look at the numbers and tell me what I am missing. Illegal Immigration and the Cost of Stupidity. It boggles the mind. Or does it? As you think through this, you may come to realize that they are de-cloaked. The enemy within has been going through a full scale de-cloaking and they are now hidden in plain sight. Check out my recent interview at INFOWARS for a more in depth view about the enemy within and their intentions (Globalization) and vision for America.

Nationalism vs. Globalism

So we can see in the recent transparent exchange between Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and President Trump (with VP Pence quietly and wisely observing) that we are heading for a showdown in a matter of days. Fundamentally, it comes down to this. Nationalism vs. Globalism, a clash of world views. I will tell you this. Trump will get his wall and Mexico in the end, will be paying for it.

I talked about the cost of illegal immigration recently in this interview. The immigration segment begins at time marker 36:10. But before we get into the cost of illegal immigration which is detailed below, I would like to share with you some views with regards to this subject. Why all the attacks and backlash against then candidate Trump and now President Trump? This is an easy one to explain. You see once you come to understand the ruling elite’s goal for a New World Order, a one world government (Globalism), it all begins to make sense.

Stripping away the sovereignty of nations began in Europe. The consolidation became known as the European Union. Border-less neighboring nations, one currency. Ah, kumbaya-not! Can you say BREXIT? So how did that work out? Disastrous. Turn on the evening news. Been to Paris lately? Meanwhile on the streets in Poland, England and France thousands are chanting “We want Trump”. Oh yeah, MSM failed to cover that. So Trump gains global support and is the most loved man alive today. But back on point.

As you stroll through somewhat recent history you find that the globalist’s plan was quite similar for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. A parallel move to the European Union and the Euro, was to be the North American Union and the Amero. Sure they called it a conspiracy, but as we know many of the conspiracy theories of yesterday have proven to be the conspiracy facts and realities of today in this great awakening that is taking place around the world today.

During George W. Bush’s time in the White House marching to the beat of Globalism just like his Poppy, (may he rest_ _ ), the plan was simply this. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico was to become the North American Union, a border-less nation with one currency called the Amero. Don’t believe me? It was on the floor of Congress.  Look it up. Get some skin in the game. Lou Dobbs, when at CNN at the time had this to say about the North American Union.

So here comes candidate Trump, upsetting the globalists apple cart. You can clearly see now in this de-cloaking stage I referred to earlier, why low energy Jeb, GWB and now deceased Poppy Bush all spoke out against then candidate Trump even after winning the GOP nomination. Nor did they did attend the RNC acceptance event. All three Bush’s also have denounced the now sitting President, President Donald Trump.

So again, here comes candidate and now President Trump. So why all the border backlash then and now? Well besides stripping the sovereignty of the U.S. via the North American Union, that border makes the deep state globalists a lot of money and feeds their goals to over throw America in many ways as well as feeding their sick, evil, demented perverted appetites. It is through this Mexican border where they control and cash in on running drugs, weapons and child sex trafficking.Thus catch and release and open border policies. Well there is a new Sheriff in town and this is about to end.

The Front Door is Closed

We all have a front door wherever it is that we live. It has a lock or locks on it too. Why? Well of course to keep us safe from uninvited intruders. After all you would not just let anyone into your home unless you invite them, know who they are, and why they will be coming into your home. Why? Because you want to protect yourself and your loved ones from being assaulted, raped, or killed. You want to protect the things you own from being damaged or stolen. Same goes for our country. My good friend Dr. Richard Davis, (R.I.P.), contributed this article to my website. Please read it. It is called My Front Door.

And Now The Numbers

Go ahead – have a look. Feast your eyes on these numbers. (then rush to the toilet because it may make you sick). You will never look at Pelosi and Schumer the same again giving our great President a song and a dance for $5 billion! These figures are excerpted from my book “Trump and the Resurrection of America” in chapter sixteen titled, “Immigration”.

1.  $14 billion to $22 billion dollars are spent each year on welfare to illegal aliens (that’s Billion with a ‘B’)

2. 22 billion dollars a year are spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens

3.  $7.5 billion dollars are spent each year on Medicaid for illegal aliens.

4.  $12 billion dollars are spent each year on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they still cannot speak a word of English

5.  $27 billion dollars are spent each year for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.

6.  $3 Million Dollars ‘PER DAY’ is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.  That’s $1.2 Billion a year.

7.  28% percent of all federal prison inmates are illegal aliens.

8.  $190 billion dollars are spent each year on illegal aliens for welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.

9.  $200 billion dollars per year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens.

10.  The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that’s two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens.  In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US.

11.  During the year 2005, there were 8 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our southern border with as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from other terrorist countries.  Over 10,000 of those were middle-eastern terrorists.  Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroin, crack, guns, and marijuana crossed into the U.S. from the southern border.

12.  The National Policy Institute, estimates that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion, or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.

13.  In 2006, illegal aliens sent home $65 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin, to their families and friends.

14.  The dark side of illegal immigration:  Over one million sex crimes have been committed by illegal immigrants in the United States!

The Denver Post?

Even the liberal Denver Post ran an article titled “What if They Left“. An excerpt is below,

I, Tina Griego, journalist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News wrote a column titled, “Mexican Visitor’s Lament.” I interviewed Mexican journalist Evangelina Hernandez while visiting Denver last week. Hernandez said, “Illegal aliens pay rent, buy groceries, buy clothes. What happens to your country’s economy if 20 million people go away?”

Hmmm, I thought, what would happen? So I did my due diligence, buried my nose as a reporter into the FACTS I found below. It’s a good question… it deserves an honest answer. Over 80% of Americans demand secured borders and illegal migration stopped. But what would happen if all 20 million or more vacated America? The answers I found may surprise you!

In California, if 3.5 million illegal aliens moved back to Mexico, it would leave an extra $10.2 billion to spend on overloaded school systems, bankrupt hospitals and overrun prisons. It would leave highways cleaner, safer and less congested. Everyone could understand one another as English became the dominant language again.

In Colorado, 500,000 illegal migrants, plus their 300,000 kids and grandchildren would move back “home,” mostly to Mexico. That would save Colorado an estimated $2 billion (other experts say $7 billion) annually in taxes that pay for schooling, medical, social-services and incarceration costs.  It means 12,000 gang members would vanish out of Denver alone.  Colorado would save more than $20 million in prison costs, and the terror that those 7,300 alien criminals set upon local citizens.  Denver Officer Don Young and hundreds of Colorado victims would not have suffered death, accidents, rapes and other crimes by illegals.  Denver Public Schools would not suffer a 67% dropout/flunk rate because of thousands of illegal alien students speaking 41 different languages.  At least 200,000 vehicles would vanish from our gridlocked cities in Colorado.  Denver’s 4% unemployment rate would vanish as our working poor would gain jobs at a living wage.

In Florida, 1.5 million illegals would return the Sunshine State back to America, the rule of law, and English.

In Chicago, Illinois, 2.1 million illegals would free up hospitals, schools, prisons and highways for a safer, cleaner and more crime-free experience.

If 20 million illegal aliens returned ‘home,’ the U.S.economy would return to the rule of law.  Employers would hire legal American citizens at a living wage. Everyone would pay their fair share of taxes because they wouldn’t be working off the books.  That would result in an additional $401 billion in IRS income taxes collected annually, and an equal amount for local, state and city coffers.

No more push ‘1’ for Spanish or ‘2’ for English.  No more confusion in American schools that now must contend with over 100 languages that degrade the educational system for American kids.  Our overcrowded schools would lose more than two million illegal alien kids at a cost of billions in ESL and free breakfasts and lunches.

We would lose 500,000 illegal criminal alien inmates at a cost of more than $1.6 billion annually.  That includes 15,000 MS-13 gang members who distribute $130 billion in drugs annually would vacate our country.  In cities like L.A., 20,000 members of the ’18th Street Gang’ would vanish from our nation.  No more Mexican forgery gangs for ID theft from Americans! No more foreign rapists and child molesters!

Losing more than 20 million people would clear up our crowded highways and gridlock.  Cleaner air and less drinking and driving American deaths by illegal aliens!

America’s economy is drained.  Taxpayers are harmed.  Employers get rich Over $80 billion annually wouldn’t return to the aliens’ home countries by cash transfers.  Illegal migrants earned half that money un taxed,which further drains America’s economy which currently suffers a $20 trillion debt.  $20 trillion debt!!!

At least 400,000 anchor babies would not be born in our country, costing us $109 billion per year per cycle.

At least 86 hospitals in California, Georgia and Florida would still be operating instead of being bankrupt out of existence because illegals pay nothing via the EMTOLA Act.  Americans wouldn’t suffer thousands of TB and hepatitis cases rampant in our country – brought in by illegals un-screened at our borders.

Our cities would see 20 million less people driving, polluting and grid locking our cities.  It would also put the ‘progressives’ on the horns of a dilemma; illegal aliens and their families cause 11% of our greenhouse gases.

Over one million of Mexico’s poorest citizens now live inside and along our border from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California, in what the New York Times called, ‘colonies’ or new neighborhoods.  Trouble is, those living areas resemble Bombay and Calcutta where grinding poverty, filth, diseases, drugs, crimes, no sanitation and worse.  They live without sewage, clean water,streets, roads, electricity, or any kind of sanitation.  The New York Times reported them to be America’s new ‘ Third World ‘ inside our own country.  Within 20 years, at their current growth rate, they expect 20 million residents of those colonies.  (I’ve seen them personally in Texas and Arizona; it’s sickening beyond anything you can imagine.)  By enforcing our laws, we could repatriate them back to Mexico.  We should invite 20 million aliens to go home, fix their own countries and/or make a better life in Mexico.  We already invite a million people into our country legally annually, more than all other countries combined.  We cannot and must not allow anarchy at our borders, more anarchy within our borders and growing lawlessness at every level in our nation.

It’s time to stand up for our country, our culture, our civilization and our way of life.

 Conclusion

Immigration and the cost of stupidity? It’s not about the numbers as you can see. This game from Pelosi and company will backfire. Trump will build his wall. Mexico will pay for it. Oh yeah…follow Q. Carry on my friends, carry on.

It’s no longer about Democrat vs. Republican, left vs. right. This facade is nothing more than a corrupt controlled, contrived divide and conquer. We shall unite for the good of humanity as we strive to resurrect America from this post constitutional republic of utter lawlessness. We are now embarking upon this path.

The ultra left? Forget about them. We will deal with them at a later date. But your friends, neighbors, associates, family members who are Democrats? They are coming aboard. And soon the swamp will be drained both left and right. Share with them this post. Intelligent common people of good will may see the light. There are any fronts where we can help our friends and neighbors to see the light. This article focused on immigration. There are many unifying topics that will bring us together in life and at the ballot box in 2020. Pedophilia for example. I have written about this subject on and off over the past two years as well as in my book “Trump and the Resurrection of America. Here is a link to get you started.

Dangerous and challenging times indeed. But when your children and grand children ask you”What were you doing when the global governance was being thrust upon America and the world?” What will YOUR answer be? Freedom, it’s up to us! Stay safe. Pray for our President. Stay the course. We are winning my friends, we are winning!

RELATED ARTICLE: White House, Congress Gear Up For a Potential Government Shutdown Over Border Wall Funding 

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

What the Neo-Socialists in Congress Don’t Understand about Poverty

In a few short weeks, America will welcome the 116th Congress.

Among the loud and celebrated voices in the new Congress are those who not only accept socialism as a viable option for America but also those who celebrate their ties to organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America. Incoming Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are members of the Democratic Socialists of America who will caucus with the Democrats.

Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib no longer represent a fringe movement on the left. An August 2018 Gallup poll revealed that over the last two years, capitalism has taken a dive, while socialism has soared among 18-to 29-year-olds.

I believe the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gave socialism a countercultural boost among my generation. Millennials suffer under the weight of crushing student loan debt and a deteriorating safety net from employers who will pay them less than their parents earned. It is within this economic context that a system promising to create parity among citizens looks attractive.

Socialism Never Works

The danger with popularizing socialism is that it sounds reasonable, but it never works. It often comes with the best of intentions: to reduce poverty. But there are simply no examples of it working to reduce poverty long-term.

Baby boomers are far more skeptical of socialism. They have lived long enough to see attempts at socialism fail, while capitalism has opened doors of opportunity.

Even as we look at America’s own dalliance with socialism, we can see little success. In our 50-year war on poverty, well-intentioned efforts have come up short. After spending well over $20 trillion on the War on Poverty, poverty not only persists. It has become a booming business.

What stockholders would allow a CEO to invest $20 trillion into solving a problem without demanding results? I can think of none.

The good news is that after 50 years, we know what does not work to end poverty: redistributing wealth. We also have a pretty good idea of what can end poverty. My friend and mentor Dr. Ben Carson often cites research that says a person can reduce their chances of living in poverty to 2 percent by doing these three things in this order: 1) Graduate from high school, 2) get married, and 3) wait until you are married to have children.

This is sound advice, something that both public and private organizations should advocate to help save future generations from a life of cyclical poverty.

For tens of thousands of Americans, though, the horse has left the barn. White students graduate at a rate of 86 percent. Black students lag behind at a rate of 69 percent.

Over 70 percent of all African-American children born today will be born to single mothers.

The best hope for all Americans who find themselves included in these numbers is a community to help fill the gap.

The Power of Community

After spending time listening to the smart policy wonks at the Heritage Foundation’s annual antipoverty summit, I am excited to see that the research bears out what my life experience has proven to me. It does not take government to end poverty. It takes a committed and empowered community.

I was raised by a strong and wise mother who understood that after she and my father divorced, it was important to make sure I learned from strong, positive male role models, including my dad, uncles, grandfathers, and even coaches.

I am successful today, but not because the government stepped in. I am successful because the government got out of the way and allowed my community to do what community does best.

As the hip, cool socialist wave makes its way to the halls of Congress, I fear we may return to the ill-fated, if altruistic, efforts of LBJ’s Great Society, when throwing money at social programs made us feel good.

A complete shift in thinking must occur. Success must be measured not by the amount of money we throw at poverty solutions, but by the number of people who are exiting poverty.

This article was reprinted from The Daily Signal.

COLUMN BY

Xavier Underwood

Xavier Underwood

Xavier Underwood is head of production for Howard Stirk Holdings, the nation’s largest minority broadcaster.

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

Vive la révolution! Vive les Gilets Jaunes!

Hundreds of French people in yellow vests advanced along the Marseilles waterfront.

As CFACT covered the march, two armored cars approached from the opposite direction.

A lone woman ran forward and situated herself in between, waving a yellow kerchief which smartly coordinated with her yellow vest.  The Berliet VXB-170 twelve ton behemoths continued their advance.

The woman stood her ground.  With the approaching force just feet away, she threw wide her arms and defied them.  For a moment, one brave héroïne slowed the power of the state to a crawl.  The next, a police officer in full riot gear swept her aside, and a platoon of police marched onto the scene.

Undaunted, the protestors continued until the police gave way.

The picture and video Adam Houser took of this modern day “Marianne” having a courageous “Tiananmen Square” moment are CFACT exclusives.

CFACT used the weekend break at COP 24, the UN climate conference in Poland, to head to France to do some research.  After interviewing many gilets jaunes (yellow vests), and observing their demonstrations, CFACT can report that the streets belong not to the government, nor to the police, but to the men, women and children in the yellow vests.  Moreover, contrary to what you may have seen in the media, in their hearts, the police are with the protestors.

The demonstrators are in fact the friends, neighbors and families of the police arrayed against them.  Except in extreme cases, the police are standing aside and leaving the gilet jaunes in charge.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there.  We’ve all seen images from Paris and other cities of masked hooligans in yellow vests smashing windows and setting fires.  Nearly all of this violence has come from radical leftists who never miss a chance to riot.  CFACT encountered these same thugs three years ago in Paris during UN COP 21, well before anyone thought to don a yellow vest.  The real gilets jaunes are upset that their president and the media are using the violent thugs to smear them.  The average French observer knows the protesters.  They get it.  Will the French government succeed in smearing the earnest, nonviolent people in the yellow vests elsewhere around the world?

Moreover, just about everyone with an agenda is trying to horn in.  This includes climate campaigners who are trying to claim the gilets jaunes as their own.  They’ve posed in yellow vests for the media during carefully staged climate events. Don’t buy it for a second.  We spoke with a wide assortment of protesters and asked them point blank.  (Video to follow).  Climate taxes? “They are BULL SHIT” is among the more genteel exclamations that question engenders.

Here are the straight facts:

The gilets jaunes represent a broad cross section of the French working and middle classes.  They are butchers, bakers and automobile makers.  They are the folks who drive the trucks, farm the food, build the buildings and fix what breaks.  They are France.  They have had enough.

The gilets jaunes took over a large toll station on the road to Marseilles.  CFACT was there.  They narrowed the lanes, but allowed traffic to pass.  Toll collectors and police left them completely in charge. The protestors did not allow motorists to pay the toll.  They are prepared to starve leviathan.

France, like many European nations, has gone much further down the UN climate road than Americans have.  They are already feeling the pain that Californians and so many others have in store.  Climate taxes on fuel to pay for inefficient, variable wind and solar power and other climate fantasies are a waste, and the folks in the yellow vests know it.  They refuse to redistribute more of what they earn in the name of global warming. They realize that climate taxes are regressive, and resent the elites with the means to take confiscatory taxes in stride.  President Macron has vowed to suppress and outlast the protestors.  He has no idea.  He also has no friends among them.

President Macron declared, “We have to tax fossil fuels more in order to fund our investments in renewable.”  Then, when faced with mass protests, he suspended the most hated climate tax for six months.  The protesters see right through this. Saturday their battle cry was, “we stay on our course.”

Over 120,000 nice, normal, fed up French citizens took to the streets in every corner of their country Saturday.  President Macron deployed 89,000 police and 80 of those armored cars to stop them.  He failed.

The yellow vest protestors are right on the merits.  Their movement has already spread to Belgium and the Netherlands.  Who will be next?

Vive la révolution!  Vive les Gilets Jaunes


Thank you to everyone who chipped in to make our work possible.  We can’t wait to share with the UN what we learned in France!  We keep finding so much more to do.  Will you give right now and help us do it?  


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

Guns and Taxes

David Hogg wants a federal tax on firearms and ammunition. He has repeatedly broached the idea, including multiple times on Twitter, and only sometimes suggests a use for the tax revenue. Hogg’s tweets on a federal gun tax include references to implementing the same sort of licensing and permitting requirements as the government requires to drive a car or funding “gun violence” research.

We’ve previously addressed the problem with comparing “gun violence” and motor vehicle accidents or smoking, and the problem with anti-gun research, so we’ll focus exclusively on Hogg’s tax idea.

Except it isn’t Hogg’s idea. The idea of a tax on firearms and ammunition predates Hogg by about a hundred years. A moment on Google would have shown Mr. Hogg as much.

The Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) was first imposed in 1919. In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act directed all revenue from FAET and related excise taxes to be used for hunting-related activities. The FAET includes a 10% tax on the sale price of pistols and revolvers and 11% of the sale price of other firearms and ammunition, and 11% tax on archery equipment. The tax is applied whether or not the equipment is likely to be used for hunting. The U.S. Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau provides an informative reference guide, and the Congressional Research Service compiled a report on the tax and relevant legislative proposals just this past March.

The Pittman-Robertson Act funds acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, research into wildlife problems, surveys and inventories of wildlife problems, acquisition and development of access facilities for public use, and hunter education programs, including construction and operation of public target ranges.

More than $12 billion has been collected under the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, including more than $761 million in fiscal year 2017 alone. Revenues from the tax are placed into the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund and distributed to the states and U.S. territories.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, put together an informative video about how the excise tax supports conservation efforts and an infographic showing how the money collected from under the Act has impacted species.

Spoiler alert: the white-tailed deer population went from 500,000 in 1900 to 32 million today, and the waterfowl population grew from few to 44 million. There are similar success stories for other species, all made possible through the excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

The Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax is public information, as is the distribution of funds. Awareness of the tax may be low, but that doesn’t make the tax any less real. More than three-quarters of a billion dollars was collected last year; such an amount does not go unnoticed, particularly by the state wildlife agencies that depend on that funding for research and conservation efforts.

Mr. Hogg and others who want a federal tax on firearms and ammunition, would be well-served by spending a bit of time researching an idea before they start issuing demands.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Ohio: Self-Defense Legislation Passes Senate Immediately Heads to House for Concurrence

California: Firearm Excise Tax Legislation Introduced

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images and video is republished with permission.

Proper Monitoring of Florida’s Highways a Matter of Life and Death

With its growing population and traffic congestion, Florida is dealing with a critical problem: securing the safety of its roads and highways.  Yes, the state has been spending a sizable amount in road improvement projects; a simple drive up I-75 is all that is needed to see the evidence of that.

But better roads and improved surface technology is only the tip of the asphalt.  Equally as important to ensuring road safety are the men and women responsible for monitoring our roadways and enforcing our traffic laws.

Between 2010 and 2017 the number of highway patrol officers (troopers) plummeted by 993, nearly half of the number of the 1,974 troopers the state allots to the Florida Highway Patrol.  These workforce challenges have mirrored the plummeting number of traffic citations generated during the same time period. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of speeding tickets generated by the Florida Highway Patrol dropped from 317,000 to 258,000, or a drop of 19%.  At the same time, the number of licensed drivers has increased from 15,374,230 to 16,568,874, with a commensurate increase in the number of registered vehicles at 16,682,411 in 2016 compared to 14,795,836 in 2011.  More tragically, between 2011 and 2016, the number of vehicular deaths has similarly increased from 2,403 deaths in 2011 to 3,176 deaths in 2016, a 32% increase.

Unquestionably, the causes of these trends are multiple. For one, Florida continues to grapple with one of the more robust growth rates in the country, a trend that has taken its population to 20.6 million inhabitants without any signs of slowing down. Moreover, Florida has 122,736 miles of road with 14,298 of those miles belonging to state and federal agencies.  More roads with more cars and more drivers generally amount to more accidents, with drug and alcohol use, and distractions such as texting while driving, playing integral roles in influencing these statistics.  Additionally, the shared jurisdictional responsibilities between state and municipality law enforcement agencies have led to confusion, frustration, and redundancy in costs.

So, although factors such as congestion and carelessness certainly drive the number of vehicular fatalities up in any given year, so do fewer numbers of troopers.

And one of the big causes of attrition among troopers is pay.

Perhaps the most straightforward concept for improving the FHP’s funding situation is simply to increase the amount of money the legislature allocates to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) for the FHP.  However, with the legislature’s competing funding priorities, it has been difficult to adequately fund highway enforcement

Another solution would be to simply do away with the FHP and allow the monitoring of Florida’s highways to be undertaken by Florida’s sheriffs.  The FHP workforce could then be transferred to the various sheriffs’ departments to handle the extra load along with some extra state funding.

However, a pilot program of this sort died in the State House of Representatives in 2017, and it does not appear there is any more appetite for such a program in 2019. Another possibility is transferring the FHP out of the auspices of the FDHSMV and placing under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).  Such a move, in theory, could save millions in administrative costs while streamlining law enforcement responsibilities within the state.  But FDLE is not eager to absorb the FHP and its associated responsibilities.

Whichever alternative is chosen, it is clear that adequately patrolling Florida’s highways will continue to be a challenge that if left unresolved will cost Floridians’ lives.

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

The Paris Riots Are Really About Macrón’s Globalism

Yesterday, I watched an incredibly insightful interview by Christianne Amanpour with the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, a link to which I have posted in our new and growing Library.  Szijjarto demonstrated incredible composure as he warded off repeated assaults from Amanpour on Hungarian nationalism and the country’s immigration policies.  And I also noticed one other thing; no one is rioting in Budapest.

As previously reported in “The Federalist Pages,” the Paris, gilet jaunes riots, so called because of the yellow vests worn by demonstrators, are a direct result of President Emmanuel Macrón’s decision to raise fuel taxes by the equivalent of 0.25¢ per gallon on gasoline that already costs the equivalent of $6.00 per gallon. Macrón’s decision is openly based on his perceived need to cut down on gas consumption in order to fight off global warming.  The reality is that France accounts for about 2% of the world’s oil consumption, and it is already second only to the United States in nuclear power production.  So, to say that Macrón’s fuel tax is going to make any difference in the world’s carbon footprint defies reality.

There must be another reason that drives Macrón to raising fuel taxes.

Macrón is a globalist.  More importantly, Macrón is strongly pro-European Union.  It is very possible that his policy positions on global warming and carbon footprints are overtures designed to appease the interests of the members of the European Union in an effort to strengthen his position there in anticipation of a post-presidential position.

But Macrón has been too eager to abandon the interests of his own constituency.  Macrón is viewed as the president of the rich, and his green tax incentives are not seen by the French as altruistic efforts for the betterment of the world order, but rather as a self-indulgent effort by the President of the rich.  French citizens appropriately view his fuel taxes as disproportionately impacting the poor and middle classes, a perception confirmed by the New York Times in its recent report on the French’s reaction to the fuel tax.  In fact in a poll conducted on Saturday, after the initiation of the French riots, gilet jaunes carried a 72% approval rating among the French.  Scenes of the French police and firemen removing their covers in solidarity with the demonstrators that have been flowing through social media validate that impression.

It is interesting that these events should come in the heels of Macrón’s harsh criticisms of President Trump and his strongly “nationalistic” views.  In his zeal to criticize the American President, Macrón has actually revealed a much more threatening truth about his priorities to the French people, Macrón does not value the importance of representing the interests of France in the world stage.  In fact, he would rather have France suffer through painful measures such as exorbitant green taxes to appease the needs of others over the needs of the French.

Indeed, in making his case, Macrón openly conflated the context in which President Trump uses the word “nationalism.” President Trump’s “nationalism” is philosophy upholding the societal benefits of the nation-state in international and domestic policies.  Macrón’s contention that that the term “nationalism” even as used by Trump, denoted the arrogant, ethnocentric view of believing in the superiority one’s race even if it means the eradication of all others.

It is clear, that Trump’s call for a healthy sense of nationalism and patriotism is inconsistent with the false charge made by President Macrón at the 100 years anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I.

After having failed to make the case against President Trump, the implication of Macrón’s globalist philosophies and the lack of regional representation they beget played themselves out in a hostile and painful manner in the City of Lights, which has lately become the City of Bonfires.

Yes, the gilet jaunesriots are about abusive tax policies.  They are also about ramming a green agenda down the throats of the people when they can ill afford to comply despite the futility of the actions they are being asked to undertake.  But they are also an anti-antinationalist movement that recognizes the precarious position in which a population is placed when its leader does not uphold his or her nation’s priorities.

It is evident that Hungary recognizes this truth, much to Christiane Amanpour’s chagrin.  And France has not, much to the chagrin of its own citizenry.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. The featured photo is by Dorian Hurst on Unsplash.

Mr. Trump, Shut Down That Government!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

France’s Tax Revolt: What Separates the Yellow Vests from America’s Tea Party

At first glance, the French yellow vests and American Tea Party seem quite similar, but once you look closely, the resemblance disappears.


France is seeing large-scale protests against massive hikes in petrol prices, sparked by tax increases. Is the anti-tax uprising sustainable or bound to disappear?

In an effort to make its case on climate change, the government under French president Emmanuel Macron has significantly increased the TICPE, an acronym which stands for “interior tax on the consumption of energy products.” An increase of up to 12 percent is supposed to curb CO2 emissions and get the country on target to fulfill its objectives, set out in the Paris Climate Accord (which the United States has pulled out of under President Trump).

Petrol prices in the République, which were already much higher than in its neighboring countries, skyrocketed despite the current level of cheap oil. On a website set up by the French government in an effort to help consumers compare prices, this becomes very visible: in the Paris region, a liter of petrol can cost up to €1.90 ($2.15). For my American friends who may be less familiar with the metric system, that’s $8.13 per gallon.

As a result, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) arose out of civil society. They aren’t associated with any political party, but they are surely angry, contesting sky-high taxation in France, and the political class is unwilling to listen to them. Protest marches often occur on motorways, where the yellow vests block the streets to get attention for their cause. The high-visibility security vests they wear are symbolic for a cry for help and a desperate attempt to gain attention. However, unannounced protests on motorways also had their price: one woman was killed, and hundreds injured in protests that were held on motorways not closed down by police.

Some protests have turned violent in city centers, where particularly large crowds are clashing with police forces.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of these images of the Champs-Élysées […] with battle scenes that were broadcast by the media in France and abroad,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told a news briefing. “Behind this anger there is obviously something deeper and which we must answer, because this anger, these anxieties have existed for a long time.”

President Macron reacted to the protest by calling for the rule of law to be protected. His government had already introduced a special energy subsidy for those in need, in order to cope with the tax. However, this hasn’t managed to stop the anger of the yellow vests, who are bound to continue their protests.

Uncoordinated and Unpolitical

The yellow vests aren’t a political movement, even though their requests are political. However, they risk being politicized by letting themselves be integrated into France’s party political movements. This isn’t new: political parties are mastering the art of undermining legitimate movements and claiming them for themselves. Both France’s far-left and far-right believe that the yellow vests could be an essential electoral boost to them before the impending European elections in this coming May.

But even if we assume that this movement manages to resist the attempts of being swallowed by either political side, what future can it have in such a tax-friendly country? The yellow vests are no Tea Party: they lack the structure and ideological backing that fueled the Tea Party.

The yellow vests are certainly fed up, but one thing would likely differentiate them from American conservatives: the Tea Party understood that in order to cut taxes, you need to cut spending. In France however, expectations to win just as many people over on the promise of cutting spending are grim.

When president Macron talked about “slackers,” “people who are nothing,” and an “unreformable country,” Politico called it an “arrogance problem.” Surely, passing an elite school and doing banking for Rothschild bears that risk. Be that as it may, the essential question is how reformable France really is. People arguing to cut taxes is a wonderful thing, but it also needs to be offset with the belief that the government isn’t here to solve all of your problems. We’re not hearing that from the yellow vests.

France’s far-right under Marine Le Pen also argues for considerable cuts in income taxes and other taxes, which has given some on the American right reason to believe Le Pen would qualify as a US conservative. There again, cutting taxes without cutting spending is just going to shift the problem to debt and inflationary policies.

If the yellow vests want to become a movement that has an actual voice in the process of reforming France, then it needs to be ideologically sound.

France should either cheer on the Paris Climate Accord for its great virtue or burn tires over sky-high petrol taxes introduced to curb carbon emissions. You can’t really have both.

COLUMN BY

Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in several outlets, including Newsweek, Rare, RealClear, CityAM, Le Monde and Le Figaro. He also works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is taken from the YouTube video posted by Huffington Post France.

Post Office Has Boom Year, Loses More Money Than Ever

Is it time to privatize the US Postal Service?


For the US government’s 2018 fiscal year, the US Postal Service reports that it successfully boosted its annual revenue by $1 billion over the previous year to $70.7 billion, marking a boom year for its mail and package delivery services. Unfortunately, it also spent about $3.9 billion more to provide those services than it took in during the year, a $1.2 billion increase over the loss it recorded in its 2017 fiscal year.

If that doesn’t sound like a success, that’s because it isn’t, which is why the editors of Investor’s Business Daily are calling for the nation’s postal service to be privatized:

By its own admission, the post office is doomed. Buried deep in its 10-k government filing is this bleak statement: “Existing laws and regulations limit our ability to introduce new products or services, enter new markets, generate new revenue streams or manage our cost structure,” it said. Imagine a private company telling its investors that.

This can’t go on. Privatization is the only viable option. The White House last summer proposed to do just that, by either selling off the post office or bringing in private managers to run it. At least a profitable postal company that can sell its shares to investors, manage costs, hire and fire workers, and expand and close lines of business would have a chance. Today’s US Postal Service doesn’t.

How bad is it? The IBD‘s editors cited reporting by Reason‘s Eric Boehm to justify its call:

Far from being an aberration, fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30, is a sign of things to come. Without changes to how it operates, the USPS will continue to post losses at “an accelerating rate,” Postmaster General Megan Brennan tells Government Executive.

“Simply put, we cannot generate revenue or cut enough costs to pay our bills,” she says.

What’s really stunning is that the USPS managed to lose so much money in a year when income from shipping packages jumped by 10 percent and overall revenue increased by 1.5 percent. That wasn’t enough to make up for an increase of $896 million in personnel costs.

What’s driving that increase in personnel costs at the post office? The same factor that’s driven dozens of cities and counties into bankruptcy proceedings when they can no longer count on being able to tax their way into the black: the pension and health benefits it provides to each of its retired government employees.

Could US taxpayers be protected from having to pay the full cost of the financial failure of the US Postal Service? Reason‘s Eric Bloem considers an interesting possibility:

As Reason has been arguing for literally 50 years, the postal service should be privatized and subjected to competition.

There’s a chance that might actually finally happen. A White House report released in June that highlighted the possible privatization of government services included two options for reforming the USPS. One idea would have private managers take over running the USPS with the government maintaining oversight responsibility. The second proposal would have the post office sold in its entirety.

A sale would likely require changes and restructuring to first net a profit, and would probably require the federal government to absorb the current debts. Still, it could net a windfall to help pay off the service’s massive liabilities—the Cornell economist Richard Geddes has found that a USPS IPO could raise $40 billion.

Just imagine how much the US government’s financial situation might improve if it returned its $1.2 trillion student loan portfolio back to the private sector.

This article was reprinted from the Independent Institute.

COLUMN BY

For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Colorado taxpayers paid $4.50 to mitigate the effects of marijuana legalization

A comprehensive new report by the Centennial Institute analyzes what marijuana legalization costs Colorado taxpayers. A few highlights:

  • The highest costs are connected to marijuana-related ER admissions, hospitalizations, and school dropouts.
  • There is a connection between marijuana use and the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Calls to Poison Control increased dramatically after legalization for medical use in 2000 and recreational use in 2014.
  • Adult marijuana users generally have lower educational attainment than nonusers.
  • Some 69 percent of marijuana users say they have driven at least once under the influence of marijuana.
  • Some 27 percent do so on a daily basis.
  • In 2016, the marijuana industry used enough electricity to power 32,355 homes.
  • That year, the industry was responsible for 393,053 pounds of CO2 emissions.

Read full Centennial Institute report here.

RELATED ARTICLE: Denver City Council Thinks Helping Heroin Addicts Shoot Up Will Stop Them Shooting Up 


Greater risk for frequent marijuana use and problems among young adult marijuana users with a medical marijuana card

With funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, researchers conducted a multi-year study of southern California children from middle school through high school.

At age 19, 28 percent (188) of 671 young adult marijuana users possessed a medical marijuana card.

  • Card holders showed steeper increases in frequent marijuana use (20 to 30 days in the past month) from ages 13 to 19 than those who did not have a card.
  • They also reported more problems in young adulthood than non-card holders, including negative consequences, selling marijuana/hashish, and driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • In addition, they were more likely to have tried to cut down or quit using marijuana in the last three months than those who did not possess a medical marijuana card.

The researchers conclude that given expanding state legalization of marijuana for medical use, this issue warrants further attention.

Read Science Direct summary of Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal article here.


FullMeasure takes a look at Colorado’s marijuana legalization

This 8-minute video and transcript presents a picture of the results of marijuana legalization in Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. We hear a lot about the up side of legalization, not so much about the down side. This reporting team set out to examine both.

The biggest surprise has been the expansion – rather than the demise promised by legalization advocates – of the black market. Cartels rent homes in upscale neighborhoods, rip up carpeting, tear down walls, and push up wooden floors to turn them into grow houses, totally destroying half-million-dollar homes in the process. And those are rented homes.

There has also been a spike in crime. In 2016, Colorado’s increase in its crime rate was eleven times more than the average 30 biggest US cities. Homicides are up by almost 10 percent.

Read and see FullMeasure story here.


Cannabis use and suicide attempts among 86,254 adolescents aged 12-15 years from 21 low- and middle-income countries.

Researchers analyzed data from the Global school-based Student Health Survey taken by 86,254 adolescents from 21 countries to assess whether suicide attempts in the past year might be associated with lifetime and past-month marijuana use.

Overall prevalence of past-month marijuana use was 2.8 percent (varying from 0.5 percent in Laos to 37.6 percent in Samoa).

Overall prevalence of lifetime marijuana use was 3.9 percent, while overall prevalence of suicide attempts was 10.5 percent.

The researchers found that past-month marijuana use was significantly associated with suicide attempts. Lifetime marijuana use was also independently associated with suicide attempts.

They call for the causality of this association to be confirmed or refuted in prospective studies to further inform policies for suicide prevention.

Read European Psychiatry abstract here.


Mount Sinai researchers conduct study of second-hand marijuana smoke in children

Researchers found that nearly half of children whose parents smoked marijuana showed evidence of second-hand smoke exposure.

Their study was a secondary analysis of data and samples collected in a larger study evaluating the effectiveness of a tobacco cessation program for parents whose children were hospitalized in Colorado. Some of the parents also reported that they smoked marijuana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested urinary biomarkers in the collected samples. They found that 46 percent of the children had detectable levels of a THC metabolite; 11 percent had detectable levels of THC itself.

“There are worrisome results, suggesting nearly half of the children of parents who smoke marijuana are getting exposed and 11 percent are exposed to a much greater degree,” says lead researcher Karen Wilson, MD, MPH of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The parents of one-third of the marijuana-exposed children said they had stepped outside to smoke pot, but the children still were exposed, suggesting that their exposure may have come from third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke is smoke that lingers in hair, clothes, even on skin and results in biological exposure that can be detected.

Read Mount Sinai press release of Pediatrics article here.

Can You Name a Single Nation That Became Rich with Collectivist Policies?

Classical liberalism is the key that unlocked modern prosperity.


I periodically ask my left-leaning friends to identify a nation that became rich with statist policies.

They usually point to Sweden or Denmark, but I point out that Sweden and Denmark became rich in the 1800s and early 1900s when government was very small.

At that point, they don’t really have any other response.

That’s because, as I pointed out in this clip from a recent debate at Pomona College in California, there is no example of a poor nation becoming rich with big-government policies (though we have tragic examples of rich nations becoming poor with statism).

So if statism isn’t the right approach to achieve prosperity, how can poor nations become rich nations?

I’ve offered my recipe for growth and prosperity, but let’s look at the wise words of Professor Deirdre McCloskey in The New York Times:

The Great Enrichment began in 17th-century Holland. By the 18th century, it had moved to England, Scotland and the American colonies, and now it has spread to much of the rest of the world. Economists and historians agree on its startling magnitude: By 2010, the average daily income in a wide range of countries, including Japan, the United States, Botswana and Brazil, had soared 1,000 to 3,000 percent over the levels of 1800. People moved from tents and mud huts to split-levels and city condominiums, from waterborne diseases to 80-year life spans, from ignorance to literacy. …50 years ago, four billion out of five billion people lived in…miserable conditions. In 1800, it was 95 percent of one billion.

Deirdre then explains that classical liberalism produced this economic miracle:

What…caused this Great Enrichment? Not exploitation of the poor, …but a mere idea, which the philosopher and economist Adam Smith called “the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.” In a word, it was liberalism, in the free-market European sense. Give masses of ordinary people equality before the law and equality of social dignity, and leave them alone, and it turns out that they become extraordinarily creative and energetic. …we eventually need capital and institutions to embody the ideas, such as a marble building with central heating and cooling to house the Supreme Court. But the intermediate and dependent causes like capital and institutions have not been the root cause. The root cause of enrichment was and is the liberal idea, spawning the university, the railway, the high-rise, the internet and, most important, our liberties.

In other words, the right ideas are the building blocks that enable the accumulation of capital and the development of institutions.

Deirdre’s analysis is critical. She reminds us that investment doesn’t merely depend on good tax policy, and rule of law doesn’t magically materialize. You need a form of societal capital as the foundation.

Anyhow, to show how good ideas changed the world, this chart shows how classical liberalism is the key that unlocked modern prosperity:

You may have already seen a chart that looks just like this. It was in a video Deirdre narrated.

Don Boudreaux shared a similar chart in one of his videos.

Circling back to the point I made at the start of this column, socialism (or any other form of statism) has never produced this type of economic miracle.

This article was reprinted with permission from International Liberty.