Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's Not Your Property

In an article appearing in U.S. News & World Report on May 27, 2015 “EPA Broadens Clean Water Regulations” describes the issuing of a rule to “clarify” which rivers, streams, ponds and wetlands are covered by the Clean Water Act.  Regardless of the intentions of and execution by the EPA to “protect” the environment, the EPA simply has no constitutional authority to exist.  Further, even if the EPA was constitutional, its actions are too often unconstitutional and opposed to the fundamental nature of government.

EPA began as an executive order by Richard Nixon to consolidate a variety of overlapping agencies and started with some 4,000 employees and a budget of $1 billion.  Today it is a bureaucratic behemoth with over 15,000 people and a budget in excess of $8.1 billion.  To put the size of the EPA in perspective, it is roughly equivalent in size to Bloomberg, the giant Wall Street firm – and the EPA is but one of hundreds of regulatory agencies.

The EPA is a perfect example of what the Anti-federalists warned regarding the inability of the Constitution to protect the people from an unceasing expansion of the federal government.  In response to the Anti-federalists a Bill of Rights was incorporated to prevent the national government from taking property without “due process” – the 5th Amendment.  This right is so fundamental it dates back to 1215 A.D. and the Magna Carta.

But today the EPA, as well as other agencies, just take without due process.  For example, in 2008 Mike and Chantell Sackett were building a house on their land in Idaho.  The land was properly permitted and was zoned for residential use.  Unfortunately for them the EPA issued a compliance order instructing the Sacketts to stop construction and return the 0.63 acre lot to its natural state or face fines of $32,500 a day.  There was no judicial hearing – just an order.

The Sackett couple wanted to go to court against the order.  However, the EPA issued an administrative compliance order which enables the government to command and control the use of private property without judicial review.  According to the Clean Water Act, the EPA says that Sackett may not challenge the EPA order until the EPA first seeks judicial enforcement – a process that can take years and during which the Sacketts face $32,500 in fines per day.  In other words, the EPA has the right to seek judicial enforcement of its order but the Sacketts do not have access to due process until after the EPA adjudication.  During this time the Sacketts can rack-up $23 million in fines in merely two years.

A fundamental reason people form societies and government is to protect private property from seizure.  It is a protected right in the Constitution, yet we have allowed politicians and unelected bureaucrats to act in capricious manner and take private property for political purpose.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Have You Read the Constitution?

Being on a college campus there is the unique opportunity to categorize people’s interests based on their major choice.  It is interesting however, that most of the political science majors I have spoken to have not read the Constitution.  In many of political conversations they begin to spout off about constitutional rights and I have simply asked, “Have you read the Constitution?” and the response I receive is quite unnerving, “Well I can’t remember, but I am sure I have read it at some point or another.”  This is astonishing that young adults who see themselves getting involved in politics as a career choice have not thoroughly studied our founding document.  It is simple to read, as this document is not written in legalese, and relatively short.  Not only is it easy to read, but every U.S. citizen, especially those involved in politics, should read it – multiple times!

This document should be revisited constantly, as new knowledge and understanding will come with every read; and with this new knowledge, disconcerting notions of what government has been allowed to do on our watch will be realized.

You can find the Constitution and links to other important documents through our website

Read. Become knowledgeable. Be Vigilant. Be Free.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The New Normal

Some economists and politicians have argued for a new normal when discussing economic growth as measured by the GDP.  Maybe 2% GDP growth is all that can be expected from the economy going forward rather than the historical 3%-4%.  Other economists, like Martin Feldstein, go further to claim that the GDP calculation should be revised because it underestimates real GDP.  He argues that the current method must account for items as value and satisfaction that he considers too subjective to accurately measure.  Feldstein may have a point.  Other liberals would chime in that regulations like diversity, minimum wage, welfare, conservation, product liability, and clean air have only been measured for the economic cost of compliance to business and resulting litigation but the economic benefits are hidden from consideration.

There are surely experiential benefits that result from policies that support these outcomes, but we must ask: At what cost? With what unintended consequences?  With what efficiency and efficacy? Would these have been done anyway without laws and regulation?  Does the government have the constitutional authority in these regards?

All regulations have cost to business and regulations are, by their nature, coercive.  It consumes and redirects capital in ways that are often contrary to profit or even good business.  Profit is at the heart of capitalism but profit requires that the product or service be to a level of quality and reliability.  A business does not last long when its quality or customer service are faulty.  Pollution, litigation, product failure are all items that sully a brand and hurt corporate growth and profit.  Accordingly, many regulations would have been adopted over time.  In fact, one can argue that business will be less likely to go beyond what is regulated because it can face consequences from efforts not regulated.  Further, regulations are far too often ill-conceived in the cauldron of politics and therefore subject to the inevitable process of political corruption.

We must recognize that anything qualitative has subjectivity, which makes measurement difficult at best.  Feldstein is right to question the basis of the GDP calculation, but we must also say that any new means of measuring GDP should rightly be less subjective.

Even with the faults of the current method to calculate GDP it has a benefit of, theoretically, being consistently applied.  Therefore, given GDP growth over the past six years is some 50% less than its historical average, are we facing a new normal?  Consider this too, that there has been the largest expansion of government spending and debt in this same time frame coupled with growth in taxes and regulations.

Our answer is that the “new” normal is not new but, as we explain in our book Vigilance The Price of Liberty, is a consequence of the increases in government.  When government policies, especially in regard to taxes and regulations, are materially reduced economic growth will increase.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Can Government Protect Us?

One of the main arguments for more and large government is that we need government to protect us.  But can they?  In the area of common defense, our military is the most powerful on the planet when given free rein to wage war without politically correct restraints. But domestically, there are a labyrinth of agencies with overlapping responsibilities chugging-out encyclopedia sized regulations they claim will protect us.

With over a trillion dollars spent each year in discretionary spending, there is bound to be some good but most is rendered useless or destructive.  Great economic disasters have occurred in the face of an ocean of regulations, such as, the Great Depression and Great Recession that were footed by wrong policy decisions.  Bernie Madoff’s clients were unprotected from mass deception even when the government was tipped-off ahead of time.  Enron and Worldcom frauds transpired under the noses of the SEC.  Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservative groups, NSA surveillance, the VA are messes created by government.  Then there is the whopper of the Affordable Care Act.  Billions of dollars and years in the making and it is a Rube Goldberg of Titanic proportions - and no, you can’t keep your healthcare plan!

The point here is that government is best when it is used sparingly.  Like spice in a sauce to add flavor, but use too much and it becomes poison.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Baltimore...When the Walls Come Tumbling Down

The riots that swept Baltimore have no justification, as no one is sanctioned to destroy property and imperil another’s life.  No perceived wrong by police on a citizen condones a mob action that hurts others not involved.

A city ramped with crime and corruption is the direct result of 40 years of liberal policy rule.  This chaos is not what liberalism believes in but what it gets.  Because while liberal ideals may seem noble, liberals are blind to the inevitability of political corruption.  This is the nature of man since his recorded beginning of time.  This is the inescapable truth, of why what may appear as good ideas almost always fail when in the clutches of government.

A marauding band of people is a fearful sight.  But we also saw one man with a microphone speak down a mob. The point being, even a single individual can make his voice heard and rise up against the crowd.

Today, the majority of Americans not only allow their voices to be suppressed, but they don’t even bother speaking up.  Many file into herds of political leanings to tow a party line.  Why go against the flow when thoughts on issues are provided conveniently through all sorts of media and institutions in perfectly formed slogans?  Is this complacency or fear . . . fear of repercussions from failure to be politically correct?  Have far too many of us given into submission of our freely formed opinions?

There is a disenchantment with government that plagues our country but which can be cured with vigilance.  By simply reading of our nation’s history then examining current events, one can cultivate his thoughts and opinions from a new perspective.  America must once again rise up and find its voice of liberty.  She must shout it through the microphone over the crowd of political correctness before our ability to fight back through word escapes us and our freedom of speech is turned to freedom from speech.

At the onset of the American Revolution, those who remained loyal to Great Britain outnumbered the patriots who sought independence.  Let’s remind ourselves that the patriots won the nation’s fight for liberty.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

What Are We Fighting For?

We must fight for the Constitution.  We must become educated in our nation’s founding and the document that is to secure the Blessings of Liberty – which is what makes America exceptional.  We must rise up once again and fight for our freedom to choose.  We must pull ourselves from under the deceit, waste, fraud and abuse that we have allowed to accumulate under the watch of those we have entrusted with the power to govern.

The vigilance of the people is not only a necessity to protect the freedoms we have, but to ensure those continue for our posterity. Within our country, the freedoms we think we have are but shadows of their original perfection.  We may tout freedom of speech, but how free is our speech when political correctness has people of all ages afraid to speak their mind without persecution.  How do we really have the freedom to choose for ourselves when over 100 million of our citizens are dependent on some type of government program?

Vigilance truly is the price of liberty; to be free we must protect what our forefathers shed blood for.  We must discard the cloak of political parties and political correct speech and begin down the path of enlightenment to have our nation strong and its individuals truly free to choose . . . not free from choice.