If the President Wants “Common Sense” Gun Laws, He Should Support Liberalization rather than Confiscation

October 9, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Remember, folks: Gun-free zones *create* targets. They don’t protect people.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I don’t necessarily blame President Obama for seeking to politicize tragic mass shootings. His actions may be a bit unseemly, but also understandable if he truly believes that disarming law-abiding people is the best way to reduce carnage.

That being said, this charitable interpretation only applies if the President sincerely pushes his preferred policies.

Yet Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review, points out that there’s a remarkable disconnect. The President constantly talks about the need to enact “common-sense gun-safety laws,” but he never tells us what those laws would be.

Within hours, President Obama takes to the microphones to furiously denounce the NRA and its ilk for resisting “commonsense gun-safety laws.” His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk, and totally pointless. …Nor does Obama propose any legislation. He knows none would pass. But the deeper truth is that it would have made no difference. …notice, by the way, how…

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Utah to raise taxes on the sick to pay for Medicaid expansion?

September 27, 2015

Make bees angry, get stung in return

Utah is one of the many states that has so far resisted expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. It’s a smart decision: While the Federal government (read, the entire nations through taxes or borrowing) pays for an initial 90% of that expansion, that percentage goes down over the years and leaves the state more and more on the hook. It’s a delayed budget-buster that would force a state to impose its own ruinous taxation; Medicaid already eats a huge portion of state budgets, and this would make the problem far worse.

So, the Utah legislature has refused to commit fiscal suicide by expanding Medicaid, but the Governor, Gary Herbert, is determined to pull that trigger. So, they’ve looked for a “compromise” that would garner more funding for Utah Medicaid. And what does that compromise entail? I bet you can guess…

New taxes:

According to the few specifics made public, the biggest component of the negotiated framework is to levy a new “assessment” on medical providers in Utah to help pay for the state’s share of expansion. But the so-called assessment is simply a new Obamacare tax on the sick that will not only raise health care costs for all Utahns, but add significantly to the national debt.

Provider Taxes Are Taxes On Everyone

Gov. Herbert says this plan will allow the state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare without the need to “raise taxes” to pay for it. But the proposed provider tax is still a tax – and not just on providers.

Hospitals and other providers won’t pay this tax. Although they may write a check and send it to the state treasury, they won’t bear the burden of a new tax. As Milton Friedman frequently explained: only people can pay taxes. This new Obamacare expansion tax will simply be passed along to Utahns seeking medical care.

Worse yet, this new tax will be borne not just by sick Utahns, but by taxpayers everywhere. This new scheme was designed specifically to draw in more money from federal taxpayers.

Here’s how it works: hospitals and other providers will pay an “assessment” to the Utah government. Utah will then turnaround and spend those dollars in order to trigger federal “matching” dollars for Medicaid expansion. In this case, federal taxpayers will have to kick in an extra $9 or more for every dollar Utah collects from the sick.

And remember: there is no magic pot of Obamacare money to cover those funds. Any federal money Utah spends on Obamacare expansion will simply be added to the national debt.

So, in summary, there are three major things wrong here:

  • Proponents of the measure, including the Governor, are lying to the people of Utah. Call it an “assessment” or a “fee” or even “broiled fish,” a tax is still a tax. John Roberts notwithstanding.
  • They are also lying when they say the tax will be borne by providers. Bullsh… Er… Nonsense. This cost will be passed on to those receiving services: the sick.
  • The federal government will have to borrow money or raise taxes to pay its share if this. Either way, that’s more from you and me.

And, on top of it all, Medicaid expansion is still a looming fiscal disaster for the Beehive State.

This stinks to High Heaven. The good people of Utah should contact their legislators and the governor’s office to remind them that a) they do not like even more of their hard-earned money being snatched from their pockets to pay for stupid ideas; and b) elections have consequences, especially for pols determined to do dumb things.

Lost weekend

September 20, 2015

hammock nap day off

Had an old friend visiting yesterday, and then today was filled with a bunch of chores and… naps. So, not much to post about, not even the controversy over Dr. Ben Carson saying that Islam is incompatible with the Constitution. (I did reply to Rick Moran’s excoriation of Carson, if you’re interested.) For what it’s worth, I don’t find Carson’s statement about Islam and the Constitution at all controversial.

So, anyway, it’s a weekend blog holiday. Enjoy what’s left of it. Maybe even take a nap or two.

Claim: Sierra Nevada snowpack lowest in five centuries

September 14, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Visual proof this is a bad drought. Our water tables are recharged by the runoff from the mountains when the snow melts. No snow = no runoff = groundwater runs out.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:


Snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada in 2015 was at the lowest level in the past 500 years, according to a new report led by University of Arizona researchers.

These two natural-color satellite images of the snow cover in the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada show the last year with average winter snowfall, 2010, compared with 2015 -- a year that had the lowest snowpack in 500 years. The images were taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Aqua satellite. CREDIT NASA/MODIS These two natural-color satellite images of the snow cover in the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada show the last year with average winter snowfall, 2010, compared with 2015 — a year that had the lowest snowpack in 500 years. The images were taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

The team’s research is the first to show how the 2015 snowpack compares with snowpack levels for the previous five centuries.

“Our study really points to the extreme character of the 2014-15 winter. This is not just unprecedented over 80 years — it’s unprecedented over 500 years,” said Valerie Trouet, an associate professor of dendrochronology at the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring…

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(Video) Why we’re losing liberty

September 7, 2015

Via Prager University, Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George looks at several reasons for the decline of liberty in America — from the growth of the national government particularly since the New Deal, to the growing willingness of the courts to “legislate from the bench” and the acquiescence and even collusion of the other two branches in that– and identifies one key reason: citizens’ own ignorance of our founding documents.

Here’s Professor George:

In other words, you’re not going to be a very successful owner, if you don’t understand the “owner’s manual.”

(Video) Does Free Speech offend you?

August 31, 2015

Yesterday I wrote about politically-correct silliness at Wesleyan University, head-shaking but largely harmless identity politics.

Today’s video, however, takes a look at a far grimmer trend at our colleges and universities: the assault on free speech in the name of not hurting anyone’s feelings.

What were once places of free inquiry and defenders of intellectual liberty are more and more becoming places where speech –and, by extension, thought– is controlled by a progressive “PC police.” The irony is rich, because it’s the intellectual descendants of the free speech movement of the Sixties who have become the new enemies of freedom of speech.

Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss.

via Prager University

RELATED: The narrator of the video, Greg Lukianoff, has written two books about the assault on free speech at our universities — Freedom from Speech and Unlearning Liberty.

(Video) Was slavery the cause of the Civil War?

August 10, 2015

civil war blue grey

That’s always an intriguing question for those interested in the US Civil War and US History in general: why did such a promising young nation tear itself apart in a conflict that cost perhaps more than 800,000 lives? (1) Aside from slavery, proffered explanations include economic and other regional differences between North and South; discriminatory tariffs (from the Southern point of view) and unfair internal improvements; and federal violations of the Constitution against “states’ rights.”

But, to this armchair historian, these and other reasons never felt sufficient to justify the turmoil of the late 1850s and the carnage of 1861-1865. For me, at least, it always comes back to slavery, that “peculiar institution” about which northerners and southerners held increasingly mutually exclusive opinions.

In the video below from Prager University, Colonel Ty Seidule, head of the Department of History at West Point, makes the argument that the war was about slavery, period:

And I agree with him. Col. Seidule refers a couple of times to the secession declarations of the southern states, asserting that each one (2) wrapped its arguments around the core of preserving slavery. And historian William C. Davis in his history of the Confederacy, “Look Away,” marshals strong evidence that the Confederate constitutional convention, held at Montgomery, Alabama, focused on the need to preserve and expand slavery. Finally, there’s this from the famous “Cornerstone Speech” of CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Seems pretty clear, no?

Davis and many, many others saw slavery as an existential sine qua non for the new nation. If the United States was conceived in liberty and was unimaginable without it, the Confederate States and Southern society were founded on the bedrock of human bondage — and were equally inconceivable without it. With their very reason for existence threatened, secession and civil war became almost inevitable. Without slavery, there would likely have been no Republican Party committed to abolition, nor any reason to secede on the election of Lincoln.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to bash modern Southerners, and I recognize the sore spot created by the anti-Southern bigotry that grew rife after the massacre in Charleston and the nonsense over the CSA flag. It annoyed me, too.

But I think honesty and a sober assessment of the historical evidence requires a recognition of the truth.

Slavery was at the root of the Civil War.

PS: Sorry there were no posts the last few days. It turned into a busy, busy Friday and weekend.

(1) Consensus estimates of total casualties hover around 600,000, but recent research indicates the toll of dead and wounded may well have been much higher.
(2) Unless I misheard him, the Colonel is wrong in this assertion. Several of the secession declarations make no mention of slavery — Florida’s, for example. But many do at length, and I think this shows the importance of slavery to the new nation overall.


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